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Supported Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Supported Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left hand on a bench in front of you, and assume a staggered stance, left foot forward. Hold your elbow in as you row the wight to the side of your torso. Do 10 reps, switch arms and leg positions, and repeat the movement.

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend your knees and lean forward so your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides, bend your elbows, and hold your forearms about parallel to the floor, palms facing up. Simultaneously extend your arms straight back and rotate the weight so your palms end up facing each other. Return to the starting position. Do 15 reps.

Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Press

Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Press

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a pair of dumbbells at arm's length by your sides, palms facing each other. Without moving your upper arms, curl the weights to your shoulders, and then press them overhead until your arms are straight. Reverse the move to return to the starting position. Do 10 reps.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Better Nutrition with the Food Guide Pyramid

Food Guide Pyramid

This diet method emphasizes overall health, focuses on the total diet, and is user friendly. No one food group is more important than another in the Food Pyramid and its use allows for flexibility with food substitutions.
This pyramid is divided into sections:
  1. Complex carbohydrates form the base or foundation of the Food Pyramid. These starches are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and medium to low in fat unless the cooking adds fats. The recommended number of daily servings are 6 - 11.
  2. The second level is divided into vegetables and fruit. Vegetables are high in vitamins A, C, and folic acid, as well as fiber and the minerals iron and magnesium. They are low in fat unless it is added in cooking or processing. Three servings are recommended. Fruits are low in fat and high in vitamin A, C, and potassium. Two fruits are suggested for each day.
  3. The third level focuses on protein, divided between meat and dairy foods. Two servings daily from dairy products provide protein, vitamins, and minerals except for iron. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are dairy foods. Some dairy choices are high in fat. The meat group includes dry beans, nuts, and eg. The nutrients include protein, B-complex vitamins, iron, and zinc. Some choices are high in fat and the recommendation is two low fat servings daily.
  4. The top or peak of the Food Pyramid is fats, oils and sweets. Salad dressing and oils, cream, butter, margarine, sugars, sodas, candies, and sweet desserts provide calories without a lot of nutrients. However, a person may eat these foods sparingly for enjoyment without negative consequences.
The Food Guide Pyramid was designed to depict variety, moderation, and proportions. The size of each section reflects the number of daily servings. Many people use the Food Guide Pyramid for tracking their food intake because of its simplicity.
Using the Food Guide Pyramid does have its drawbacks.
  1. It does not limit food choices to those low in calories. A person using the pyramid needs to have knowledge of the approximate fat and calories in foods in order to make effective choices. The Food Guide Pyramid makes no attempt to point out individual high fat or high sugar foods within the individual sections.
  2. A person may choose the right number of servings from each group and still make poor nutrient choices if they use mostly processed foods and few raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
A person can use the Food Guide Pyramid wisely if they remember the goals of a nutritious diet:
  1. Adequacy - Choose the minimum numbers of servings in each section (6,3,2,2,2).
  2. Balance - One type of food is not overemphasized.
  3. Calorie control - Focus on the nutrient dense lower levels of the pyramid if you want extra food, but also watch the serving size!
  4. Moderation - Using some of the fats and sweets from the top of the pyramid sparingly adds enjoyment to the food.
  5. Variety - Within each section, choose different foods and experiment with new flavors.
Here is my personal experience with using the Food Guide Pyramid:
While I have great exercise habits, I tend to avoid any monitoring of my food intake, mainly because I love to eat! My excuse is that all the exercise is plenty to stay at the fitness level I want. despite the fact that I teach a nutrition course! So after noticing that I was starting to look and feel a bit less than my peak, I decided to bite the bullet and take a hard look at my eating habits. I used the Food Guide Pyramid, focusing on low fat choices. I drew pyramids on pieces of paper, and sectioned them off for the contents: Complex carbohytrates as the base, veggies and fruits on the second level, meat and dairy third,and the "other," fats and sweets, on top.
Some of my mental dialog:
  • "It's hard to eat that much."
  • "Wow I sure don't get enough complex carbs."
  • "I guess I like eating fruit and veggies in mass quantity."
  • "What in the heck HAVE I been eating?"
In two weeks - visible changes! The muscle tone is once again showing at a preferred level.
The moral: It takes a 50/50 relationship between food and activity for best performance and fitness (appearance, too).

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Miracle Weight Loss

Miracle Weight Loss

The desire for instant gratification in a no-fail weight loss method can spur you into trying products that promise "miracle" weight loss. Among them are diet pills, vitamin supplements, herbs, and "thigh creams." These products are advertised in the pack pages of magazines, on radio and on television. The sale of them is a million dollar industry.

There are some obvious advertising claims that signal a weight loss product is a fraud. Beware if a product promotes:
  • "If you lose too much weight, discontinue immediately."
  • Wrapping the product around a specific body part to flush or burn fat from that area.
  • Reliance only on testimonials from satisfied customers.
  • "Magic" combinations of food and vitamins.
  • Weight loss without diet or exercise.
Diet gimmicks continue due to the common belief that ad claims must be true or the products wouldn't be around. But even with common food, there are a lot of weight loss myths. Some of these follow:
  • MYTH - Margarine has less fat and calories than butter
    TRUTH - Both are 100 percent fat and the same amount of calories. Some light margarines are whipped with water to lower the fat per serving.

  • MYTH - Chicken has less fat than beef.
    TRUTH - This depends on the cut of beef and the part of the chicken. Chicken thighs are just as high in fat as most beef.

  • MYTH - Non-dairy creamers and toppings are low-fat alternatives to cream.
    TRUTH - These contain the highly saturated fats of palm and coconut oil. Evaporated non-fat milk is a better choice.

  • MYTH - Choice and prime cuts of meat are lowest in fat
    TRUTH - These are highest in fat. Select less expensive cuts for lower fat content.

  • MYTH - Brown sugar and honey are better than white sugar.
    TRUTH - All these sugars have the same amount of calories per gram (4) and insignificant amounts of nutrients. They all promote tooth decay.

  • MYTH - To reduce blood cholesterol, stop eating eggs.
    TRUTH - Cutting back to 3 or 4 eggs a week is helpful, but reducing the total fat intake of the diet is most helpful for lowering cholesterol.

You can dismiss quick fix thinking and food myths and use a permanent approach to weight management. You can eat foods you enjoy, lower body fat, and keep it off. Moderate, achievable goals for weight management include:
  • Balanced meals of a variety of high fiber, lower-fat food.
  • Sufficient calories at regular times.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Lose only one or two pounds per week.
If there was one simple step that I would recommend to improve most people's nutrition it would be VEGETABLES. In fact, one of my personal daily goals is to make sure I include 3-4 servings of veggies in my daily food intake. (Even us "experts" need to work on changes, too.) Here are some ideas to add plant life to your food without noticing them as much:
  • Add extra grated veggies to spaghetti or pizza sauce.
  • Add a layer of veggies to lasagna.
  • Add two colorful diced veggies to casseroles.
  • Add veggies to low-fat sour cream or yogurt for potato topping.
  • Stuff veggies (squash, tomatoes, peppers) with rice, beans, or tuna.
  • Add grated carrots or zucchini to cakes and cookies when baking.

Monday, September 24, 2018

How Much Food?

How Much Food

Do you give your body the best fuel so it can perform in the manner you wish, or do you fill up with the “cheap stuff?”

Looking at food from a different angle, do you view food as enjoyable or as medicine? Can we have fun eating and still maintain low bodyfat?

Many women eat too little, instead of too much, out of fear of gaining weight. Many normal women think they are fat because of society’s obsession with thinness. The semi-starvation food habits of these women make them vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies, more so than men. It is a woman’s right to concentrate on healthy eating rather than starving oneself to produce a body size you were never genetically programmed for. It is a woman’s right to ban diets, throw away the scale and make being healthy the important factor.

Even without resorting to a fad diet, chronic dieting by severely restricting calorie intake can produce unfortunate side effects.
  • Obsession with food and body weight
  • A sense of deprivation
  • Weight cycling
  • Eating binges followed by guilt
  • Self dislike
Food becomes and enemy and mealtime the battlefield. Fatigue is also related to poor eating patterns.

You are encouraged to focus on fitness, not fatness, by developing eating and exercise behaviors that will lead to good health. This includes an eating plan you can live with forever. Eating awareness is a lifetime of providing your body with the necessary nutrients it needs: protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.
How many calories are needed for health and fitness? An easy way to figure this is:
  • Multiply your weight by 10 (EX: 130 x 10 = 1300)
    This determines the amount of calories needed for your basic body functions.
  • Add about half that amount for your activities (1300 + 650 = 1950)
  • If you exercise daily add an additional 200-300 (1950 + 200 = 2150)
This may seem like a lot of calories, but this higher caloric intake offers adequate energy to function and contributes to successful long term weight (fat) loss. One note: This calorie intake may not work for someone who has dieted for extended periods throughout life or who keeps her weight abnormally low. 
The next question is “What to eat?”
  • Eat three health balanced meals a day.
  • Limit fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Increase complex carbohydrates.
  • Focus on food that has high nutrient density, which means the food provides more nutrients for fewer calories. (Vegetables are the most nutrient dense food you can eat.)
Carbohydrate rich meals and snacks with some protein and a little fat will energize your body. A good food plan never eliminates an entire food category and the food can be found at the grocery store, not just at specialty food stores.

A food program that encourages making changes in eating habits one small step at a time can be simple and comfortable, as well as very effective.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Weight Loss: Fraud or Fact?

Weight Loss

Many people believe that the cleverly marketed fat burning products for sale today are that genie who will grant their wish when they use their credit card to open the bottle. Especially when well known TV, radio, and media personalities promote the products.

One person who is very close to me bought into the marketing hype of a product claiming to increase metabolism and produce the instant weight loss, despite my advise not to. After 3 weeks he was noticing his hands were numb. The second symptom was a racing pulse. A week later he had migraine headaches three days in a row. The doctor told him to throw that weight loss supplement (the doctor used the work “crap”) away before he seriously hurt himself. Now my friend is following my suggestions for losing weight.

I read the labels of several miracle metabolism boosters. Here are some of the most popular ingredients, what they claim to do and what they really do.

Chromium supplements are claimed to help you burn body fat and build muscle. There is no real scientific evidence that indicates that chromium aids weight loss, however there is some evidence that chromium (as chromium picolinate) may cause cancer.

Ginseng has been used for over 4000 years in the Orient as an "energy booster". Today many people take ginseng products to boost their own energy levels and increase the ability to exercise, thus burning more fat. In double blind placebo controlled studies of ginseng the researchers concluded that oral ingestion of ginseng for 7 days prior to exercise did not improve exercise performance when subjects rode an exercise bike.

Ma Huang, ephedra, or ephedrine mimics the effect of stimulating hormones like adrenaline in the body Ephedrine is a drug that is widely used in over the counter cold and asthma medications and is also found in weight loss products even though there is no substantial evidence that it is an effective weight agent in obese individuals. Ephedrine is known to elevate one's blood pressure and heart rate and may also result in restlessness, headaches, dizziness and insomnia, psychosis, memory loss and muscle injury. If you are currently using an ephedrine containing product for weight loss throw it away right now!

Pyruvate has ballooned into one of the biggest selling weight loss products on the market today. Pyruvate is a molecule formed during the breakdown of sugar (glucose) for energy. Unlike the vast majority of weight loss products on the market today, pyruvate does have actual scientific studies in reputable scientific publications backing up it's claims.

However closely analyzing the results of those studies makes one wonder if it really works in the miraculous way that is claimed by weight loss product manufacturers. Increased metabolism is one promise from proponents of pyruvate. This claim that combinations of pyruvate and the substance dihydroxyacetone result in greater metabolisms is based solely on studies using rats, not humans. The most recent human study found that those using pyruvate and dihydroxyacetone actually had lower metabolisms at the end of the study than those who did not use them!

Enhanced weight loss is the biggest claim from using pyruvate and the few studies investigating pyruvate’s role in enhancing weight loss say that it works. However, the subjects in the studies were extremely obese (200 lbs overweight), the subjects were on very low calorie diets (500 calories per day), and the increased amount of weight lost in the group using pyruvate was only an average of 1.5 - 2 lbs per person more than the control group. So there is no evidence that pyruvate would aid weight loss in the average individual.

I would love it if there was a genie in a bottle who would grant your wish for weight loss miracles. But there is no such thing. I mentioned that my friend who tried one of these fake genies in a bottle is now following my recommendations for losing weight. Here are the suggestions I gave him for effective metabolism boosting and fat burning:

  1. Set a goal and commit to achieving it. Measure yourself. Set a goal for losing 1-2 lbs a week or ½ - 1 inch per measurement each month. Re-measure every 4 weeks, then reset your goal. 
  2. Do strength training exercise. Lift weights or use resistance bands. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, so increasing it will help your body burn more fat. When a person does regular resistance workouts it can increase the metabolism up to 8.3%. 
  3. Do regular aerobic exercise. Condition your heart and burn calories. Your metabolism can increase up 3.5% if you do an aerobic workout 5 or 6 times a week. (Add that to 8.3% from lifting weight and you have a total metabolic increase of 11.8%!) 
  4. Exercise daily with strength training, aerobics, or both. Keep that body moving every day. Think of it as your "metabolic optimizer" workout, spreading your efforts over all 7 days of the week. 
  5. Eat 4-6 smaller meals a day. Every time you eat, you increase your metabolism. It takes energy to digest your food. When you go for long periods without eating, you shut your metabolism down, most often resulting in overeating at your next meal. Keep your metabolism high by spreading your calories out. 
  6. Drink 8-10 glasses of water minimum per day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Energy and Metabolism

Energy and Metabolism

Metabolism is the word used to describe the chemical and physical processes in the body that provide energy for the maintenance of life.

Energy is neither created nor destroyed; rather, there is a transfer. You can think of your body as a bank, an efficient investment system. Many transactions are made each day.

Food is the initial investment you bring to your bank. It provides a continuous supply of energy for the body cells, but it is not used directly. Digestion breaks down the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into the simple forms of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids, and these are deposited into different “accounts” in your body “bank.” Some glucose is processed and used quickly for energy, like paying cash for a purchase. The remaining glucose becomes glycogen and is stored in the muscles and liver, part of your body’s bank.

This is similar to a checking account that you can get funds out of whenever you need them. Fatty acids are long-term investments, similar to a savings account. They are not meant to be “cashed in” immediately.

Protein provides amino acid building blocks for growth or repair of body tissues and to synthesize enzymes and hormones. It is used as an energy source only during periods of starvation at the expense of other needed functions. Your body bank thinks of using protein to prevent going bankrupt but at the expense of other important functions in the body.

When your body bank cashes in some of the saved glycogen or fatty acids, they release energy to form a compound that is abbreviated ATP. This is the “currency” that is used to buy your body’s activity. All biological work requires that ATP be broken down or spent. The body cashes in its savings and produces ATP either anaerobically or aerobically.

Aerobic production of ATP is for activities requiring sustained energy at a slower pace. Your body bank cashes in either glycogen or fatty acids over a long period of time, similar to cashing in a savings bond and spending it slowly. Because of the negative publicity excess body fat gets, it’s hard to realize that from your body’s point of view, fat is the gold standard for potential energy.

Carbohydrates provide four calories of energy per gram. It is stored in the body as glycogen in sufficient quantity for a 10-mile run or about 1200 calories. Fat, which provides 9 calories per gram, is stored in almost unlimited abundance. A woman who weighs 120 pounds with 25 percent of her weight stored as body fat has enough stored energy to run 1000 miles.

The comparison of your body to a bank is a very simple way to explain the complicated process of energy use, or metabolism. As it pertains to exercise, the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems are not mutually exclusive. They can work together or the body can alternate between them. The intensity of an exercise period dictates the fuel, whether mostly glycogen or fatty acids are used.

People who love to exercise for fun and fitness can appreciate how effective the metabolic systems operate to allow the enjoyment of activity. If you need to decrease your energy investment and lose some body fat, go on a spending spree!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Exercise Safely in Summer Heat

Exercise Summer Heat

I like to write about exercising in hot weather every year because you can make your summer workouts effective, fun, and SAFE!! More exercise injuries occur during summer because of the hotter temperatures for two reasons:

  1. Many people start activity programs during warm weather and participate only one or two days a week (Weekend Warriors)
  2. Many exercisers neglect the increased need for water when the temperature is high.

Warm weather often motivates people to increase their activity, even after a winter of being sedentary. Weekend warriors are individuals who participate in sports or outdoor activities only once a week or so. The human body needs time to adapt to changes in the climate and it may take several weeks. Your fitness level and your amount of body fat are physical factors that affect how fast you adapt to higher temperatures. The fitter you are, the quicker you will adapt to changes in the climate. If you have excess body fat, it acts as insulation and slows heat loss. Therefore, summer weekend warriors are entering their favorite activities with two possible strikes against them.

Starting a program of regular activity now will prepare you for your summer weekend sport. Train yourself with a cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, running, biking, etc. at least three times a week for 30 minutes. Add some strength exercises such as pushups and squats. Follow this minimal program for 3-4 weeks and you will notice how much better you feel when the weather gets really hot.

Whether your are a weekend warrior or a regular exerciser, when that 100+ temperature does make its debut, follow your body's need to reduce the intensity of your workout. In very hot, humid weather, the intensity of exercise lasting 30 minutes or more should be reduced and you should monitor your heart rate carefully. As the summer progresses, you will acclimate within two or three weeks and be able to resume your normal intensity.

Whenever possible, try to exercise in the cooler times of the day, wearing light colored, well-ventilated, loose fitting clothing. Never wear plastic or nylon jogging pants or suits. They prevent the evaporation of sweat and retain body heat. Wearing them is asking for a heat injury.

The body's need for water is greater in the summer because hot weather presents two challenges: preventing dangerous elevations in your internal body temperature and avoiding dehydration. Heat related injuries are often caused by inadequate water intake.

Exercising muscles generate heat. As the body temperature rises, sweating begins. When sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools and lowers the temperature. Exercising under extreme environmental conditions, such as heat and humidity, increases cardiovascular stress. In hot weather, it is harder to dissipate internal heat.

The larger you are, the more you sweat. Women sweat less than men. Conditioned athletes sweat more than beginning exercisers and at a lower body temperature. (Athletes also lose fewer electrolytes from sweating than less conditioned people.)

Sweat is made of water. The body's water is an essential nutrient composing 55 - 60 % of an adult's weight. During an average day a person loses up to two or three quarts of water. Excessive sweating during intense exercise can cause a loss of as much as two or three gallons of water a day.

Never restrict water during exercise. Stay well hydrated by drinking a lot of cold water. Do not rely on thirst as an indicator of the need for water. You can become dehydrated before you feel thirsty. Drink 1 or 2 cups of water 15 - 30 minutes before exercising, then another cup every 15 - 20 minutes during your workout. Drink one or two cups more after your workout.

Cold water is best because it empties rapidly from the stomach and lowers the body's core temperature. Sports drinks and sugared fluids are absorbed much slower and are less efficient at preventing dehydration. The electrolyte replacement is needed only by endurance athletes, such as marathon runners. If you eat a nutritious diet, you will get all the electrolytes you need. Drinks with caffeine or alcohol act as diuretics, which cause even faster water loss, so avoid them.

Outdoor athletes sometimes have difficulty carrying the amounts of water they need. Mount several water bottle holders on bikes. There are some wearable water bags that are great for any activity and free your hands. Remind children to have water available and drink often. Kids can overheat a lot faster than adults.

During your summer sports and fitness activities it is important to recognize your own individual heat tolerance and limits so that routine will be effective and safe!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Vacation Fitness

Vacation Fitness

However, new exercisers may not have established the habit securely enough to prevent post-vacation dropout from their exercise routine.

Pre-vacation planning can help your students and clients to stick to healthy lifestyle activities and enjoy their time off. Encourage them to research the following while making their plans.

  • Is there an exercise area and swimming pool?
  • What additional recreational activities are available? - biking trails, inline skating, parks, walking/jogging paths.
  • Is there a fitness facility (YMCA, etc) nearby that services the hotel guests?
  • What kind of exercise clothes and accessories for planned exercise activities will be needed?
Time for Exercise
  • Encourage your clients to plan at least 30 minutes 3-4 times a week for exercise.
  • If driving long distances is part of the vacation - walk briskly for a few minutes at each rest stop.
  • Walk briskly through the terminal during long layovers.
Workout in a Suitcase
  • Rubber resistance bands or tubing for strength training.
  • Jump rope for cardiovascular exercise.
  • Pushups, squats/lunges, abdominal exercises can be done withoug equipment.
  • Stretch daily.
Help your students and clients brainstorm for ways to include fitness in their vacations. Do a "practice" vacation workout with them before they leave on their trip. Write their workout on a log and encourage them to use it.

Ultimate 30's Workout

Increase the amount of testosterone and growth hormone your body produces by working multiple muscle groups and keeping rest periods short. For cardio, your lactate threshold can still be increased throughout your thirties, so intervals are king to counter any loss of lung power.

Ultimate 40's Workout

Short, sharp shocks are the way to fire up your body in your middle years - which means you can forget long-winded weights workouts. Vary exercises, intensity and timings to keep your muscles guessing.

Ultimate 50's Workout

You may not be able to lift the heaviest weight, but that's okay. Instead, stretching and yoga should be part of your training, and body-weight moves can replace heavy workouts. Do three sets of 10 reps of the following exercises to protect your joints and maintain muscle mass and testosterone.