January 28, 2014
Understanding appropriate portion sizes in absolutely vital to both lasting weight loss and overall health and fitness. Americans especially have been completely brain washed over the last several decades by restaurants, wholesale shops and movie theatres to think that we should be eating a lot more than we actually need to live.
This inarguably negative aspect of American culture is spreading around the world as people mistakenly continue to equate ‘great value’ with ‘excess’. This portion distortion has manifested itself on our waistlines and its time to make a change.
What kind of change? Where do I start?
For example, by beginning an exercise program and cutting her restaurant meals in half (and taking the other half home for later) my cousin recently lost sixty pounds. That’s the equivalent of two hundred and forty baby pandas that she is no longer carrying around -or if it’s easier to picture, 240 sticks of butter melted right off her body. So taking a page from my cousin’s book is a great start when it comes to watching your portion sizes in restaurants.
But when you’re preparing food for yourself, how much is just right? Well according to the USDA’s food guidelines for proper portion sizes….
-A serving of meat or protein should be about the size of a deck of cards
-A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of other carbohydrates (rice or pasta) is between the size of a tennis ball and a golf ball
-A serving of fruits or vegetables is equal to one piece Or half a cup of chopped fruits of veggies Or ¾ cup of 100% juice( not to be confused with your favorite juice from concentrate!)
-A serving of dairy is equal to one cup of milk Or a piece of cheese about the size of your thumb (No excuses for not being conscious of your choices…. I can’t remember the last time my thumb wasn’t around when I wanted some cheese!)
Some people benefit from deliberately measuring out their servings or using a food scale. But most of us can enjoy big improvements in our health just by raising our awareness of what is reasonable.
Another portion control tip would be to always separate what you want to eat from the package right away to avoid overeating and losing track of what you’ve already eaten. So as portable as that pint of Ben and Jerry’s is- do help yourself to a bowl.
Choose smaller bowls or plates if you have them. This creates the illusion that you have a fuller plate. This way, even if you clean your plate, you might still save hundreds of calories that you might have eaten mindlessly from a bigger dish.
You might be surprised at what portion sizes really fill you up if you are used to habitual overeating. Remember, your stomach is around the size of an adult fist. And while it can expand to hold about a quart (or 32. oz) of food, that food could sit in your stomach for several hours and filling it to capacity with junk is going to show in your trunk.
Always take the time to eat mindfully and slowly. Chew your food. Enjoy it. Eating on the run isn’t exactly associated with feelings of incredible satiation. If you take your time, your body will have a chance to let you know its full and you will avoid that awful feeling where you’ve overeaten and you feel sluggish.
Because I love eating, I like to choose foods that aren’t calorically dense or in other words, pack fewer calories into larger quantities like soup or salad. Soup, for example, is a true feast for all my senses and it fills me up without slowing me down.
If you have to eat on the run, keep the portion sizes small. Fast, processed foods are generally very calorically dense so try to make good choices, and when you make bad choices, don’t ‘supersize’ them.
However, dessert isn’t a bad choice. It is a healthy choice when chosen deliberately and enjoyed in moderate portion sizes. Splitting that cheesecake with your girlfriend on your lunch date is a great way to indulge your craving without sabotaging your waistline.…
January 28, 2014
Figuring out your waist to hip ratio can be a useful tool for assessing your health and is sometimes a more reliable method than your body mass index at indicating your potential to develop a variety of diseases including Heart Disease and Diabetes.
Carrying extra fat on your middle can be much more dangerous than carrying fat elsewhere on the body.
If you have a high BMI, but little abdominal fat, a doctor may find that you are at a healthy weight. However, if you have a significant amount of abdominal fat and a high body mass index, weight loss may be necessary to reduce your potential for serious health problems.
To figure our your waist to hip ratio, all you need is a measuring tape to take two measurements.
- Measure around your waist level with your belly button.
- Then measure your hips where your bottom makes the widest circumference.
- Divide the first measurement by the second to find out your results.
Under age 60, a ratio of greater than .9 signifies that you are at an increased risk of suffering in the future from heart disease. Once you are over 60 years old, a ratio of over 1.0 is dangerous.
Biologically designed to store fat differently than men, a ratio of over .8 indicates a women under 60 is at an increased risk of heart disease. If you are a woman over age sixty, a healthier waist to hip ratio is .9 or less.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women over age 25.
The measurement of both your waist to hip ratio and your body mass index provides a better evaluation of your health than either measurement alone.
Keeping your middle in the safe zone will prevent illness in the present and a host of medical complications in your future including heart disease, type II diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and more.
For a math free assessment measure just around your waist.
If you are a woman with a waist measurement of over 35 inches or a man whose waist circumference is over 40 inches- regardless of your body mass index- you should talk to your health care provider.
A physician can examine your family history and lifestyle. Together you can discuss the best way for you to prevent future health problems.
Visceral fat around your belly is more than meets the eye. A heavy midsection can be an indicator of excess fat around your internal organs. It is this hidden fat that has the potential to be the most damaging to your health.
At the same time, if your BMI is between 25 and 30 percent, but your waist measurement in in a healthy range, you may just have a more muscular body composition. Ask your doctor if you should be concerned.
Remember, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your health. If you can still move it, it’s not too late to lose it!…
January 28, 2014
Like any machine, your body needs a warm up routine in order to help you work out the kinks and prepare to do some real work and exert yourself. There are biomechanical benefits of warming up that should not be overlooked by anyone who is looking to maximize their workout.
Warming up your body before exercise enhances the efficiency of your cardiorespiratory system, or rather, the movement of oxygen and blood throughout the body. If you warm up your lungs and heart, it puts less stress on them during the following activity.
Since blood cells release oxygen faster at higher temperatures, by raising your body’s temperature, you ensure that there is more oxygen and energy available for the muscles when they need it. The blood vessels actually increase in diameter, a process called vasodilation, which also increases the blood flow to active muscles.
This helps prevent both premature fatigue during your workout and lactic acid buildup which lessens the likeliness of cramping.
Sufficiently warmer inside, you are less likely to injure yourself because the joints experience heightened lubrication and your muscles become ‘stretchier’. The viscosity of the fluids in your muscles also increases so that the proteins in the muscle fibers that are involved in contraction work more efficiently.
Spending at least five or ten minutes warming up sufficiently also enhances your motor skills and allows your brain to both prepare for the activity ahead and better perform throughout its duration. These neural cues ease your transition into the coordinated combination of muscle movements to follow.
Finally, the nervous system’s well being may be easier to assess before a fatiguing workout.
This is your opportunity to note any pains or discomforts you feel as you loosen up. The result of this evaluation will aide your judgement as to whether the severity of a pain that develops as you fatigue is just part of the challenge or a reason to slow down, stop, or modify your routine.
Specific warm up times can be different for everyone. But as you experiment with everything from dancing to jumping jacks you will learn to recognize the signs that your body is prepared for you to increase your intensity.
Making your warm up routine a habitual, non-negotiable aspect of your fitness program sets you up for success during your workout and helps prevent injuries. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it properly, right? So remember, you’ve got to get warm to get hot!
February 5, 2014
Fostering healthy habits is a worthwhile pursuit. You are not just what you eat; you are what you do!
Small, intentional changes are the difference between being fit and strong and being lethargic and unwell.
Why is this good news?
Your habits are changeable. To develop new, healthy habits all you have to do is replace your old behaviors by taking actions that will produce better results for you. With a little bit of reflection, you can pinpoint the areas that need work.
For example, taking the dog for a walk after dinner instead of smoking a cigarette could help you quit smoking and lose a few pounds. A few pounds lighter, full of fresh air- you might find yourself delighted to make another positive change.
Swapping green tea for the artificial juice you usually have in the morning will provide you with some crucial antioxidants and polyphenols. You could lose ten pounds this year by giving your routine this little upgrade.
You do eat a healthy breakfast, right? Eating a healthy breakfast gives you the fuel you need to jump start your day, fires up your metabolism, and can determine whether you make nutritious choices for lunch.
Developing healthy eating habits sets you up for continued success by making all those little decisions throughout the day easier to manage. These healthy habits will not only help you trim body fat, but will also drastically improve your digestive system.
And knowledge is power. By learning how much and what kinds of food your body needs, you can positively influence your physical fitness.
A general knowledge of caloric content and appropriate portion sizes
can help you make better decisions when you are eating out. Similarly, knowing how to read food labels and speed up your metabolism can better prepare you for making smart decisions at the grocery store.
What’s the best part?
Replacing your unhealthy habits with more beneficial actions does not have to be time consuming. For instance, staying hydrated takes the same amount of time as being thirsty or drinking unhealthy beverages. And your efforts will pay off. After all, becoming dehydrated by as little as three percent can have a negative impact on your ability to perform mental and physical tasks properly.
The ultimate goal is to make one small change at a time and stick with it so that eventually, healthy habits are second nature to you. When making healthy choices comes naturally, there is no risk of holidays or occasional restaurant outings sabotaging your hard work.
Embracing just one healthy habit can empower you to keep adding healthy lifestyle changes to your routine. In your wildest dreams, how fit could you look? How fantastic could you feel?…
February 2, 2014
Circuit training, like interval training, is a great way to keep your body challenged, vary your workouts, and avoid plateaus. This type of training involves keeping your heart rate up in between more specific muscle strengthening moves. Everyone can and should incorporate the best exercises into the circuits of their workout.
Circuit training really helps you maximize the efficiency of your workout. It is designed to build muscle while blasting calories.
While your heart rate recovers it becomes easier to breath. As a result, you will flood your muscles with oxygen rich blood, tone up, and burn fat.
This page highlights some circuit training exercises that you can do in between muscle building moves to keep your target heart rate up.
Another reason to get comfortable with these circuit training exercises is because you can do them anywhere, with no equipment (though a supportive pair of shoes is strongly advised).
This method also gives you complete freedom to be creative and choreograph your own workouts.
For example, you can design your own 20 minute circuit. Just alternate the aerobic exercises below with a few strength training moves or Pilates exercises and then get your heart rate back up. Bookend your circuit with a warm-up routine and some post workout stretching and call it a day!
The most important thing to remember is to make sure you are doing the exercises one right after the other to keep your heart rate up. A warm body protects you from injury and increases your calorie burn. As soon as you get comfortable, mix up your routine to keep it challenging and fun.
5 Classic Total Body Fitness Moves
1) Jumping Jacks
Start with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jump in the air and land with your arms raised in the air over your head and your feet several feet apart. Jump back to the starting position, lowering your arms and bringing your feet back together.
This should be continuously done without stopping. The larger your range of motion with this exercise, the more calories you will burn, so do not give in to lazy limbs.
These are tough, even for a fit individual, so only attempt to do as many as you can comfortably. Dizziness will only impair your workout.
The reason they are so good for circuit training is because of the huge range of motion they involve. Burpees will get your heart rate up very quickly. If you are unconditioned, let these be an exercise you look forward to because of the coordination and agility required.
From a standing position, squat straight down, placing your hands on the floor. Quickly jump your legs back so they are both extended behind you and you are in a raised pushup or plank position. Jump your legs back by your hands and move back to the start position.
To make these more difficult, include a push up when you are in the plank position or add some plyometrics by jumping explosively straight up into the air at the end of the sequence.
3) Jogging in Place
Jog in place, lifting your feet towards your bottom. Get your blood pumping faster by raising your arms straight up and down while you jog.
For an additional challenge, jog so your knees come up high in front of you.
4) Step asides
Step to the right and bring your left foot to meet your right foot. Then step to the left, following your left foot with your right. While you step and tap, bring your arms out to the side until they are in line with your shoulders and down between every time you change direction with your feet. This is a great exercise to use as a cool down after cardio. Never cease exercising abruptly as this can contribute to cramps and other circulation problems.
5) Jumping Rope
A jump rope is a great tool for to use during the calorie blasting part of your circuit. It can spike your heart rate back up in minutes so you will be begging for the next batch of muscle chiseling moves.
REMEMBER, the NUMBER ONE most important requirement of any workout is that you get MOVING.…