New Years Resolutions…

It’s really awesome to see new faces in the gym at the beginning of the year.  I’m encouraged by folks want to actively take part in changing who they “were” and begin a new phase in their fitness lives!  And, that New Year’s resolution is a great way to start.  Just like training your mind, training your body is just as important.  You can add years to your life just by doing something as simple as taking a walk everyday. However, if you add weight training and proper nutrition to the mix, that number can dramatically increase!

OK, so here’s the problem…

A little over 90% people who make those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat better and get fit, (or all three) will drop out of their regimen by Valentine’s Day.  Over 90%!  I see it in the gym every year.  During that first week, they come to the gym and run, lift weights and take classes for hours a day.  Then, you don’t see them for a week because they’re so sore, they can barely move.

The key is MODERATION!!!  You didn’t get out of shape and/or gain weight overnight and you’re certainly not going to get fit overnight either.  It takes dedication, discipline and commitment.  You need to take your time, ease into a training routine and try to get educated in all 3 of the major facets of fitness…weight training, cardio work and proper nutrition.

Here are some recommendations to help you along the way…

  1. Make Exercise of Part of Your Daily Routine:

Just like bathing, putting on your clothes or brushing your teeth everyday, so should be your training commitment.  A great quote is: “I don’t find the time to exercise, I make the time to exercise”.  Start by just setting aside 30 minutes to an hour each day.  Too busy you say? I doubt it.  TURN OFF THE TV.  Calculate how many hours of TV you watch every week…go ahead, try it.  I bet you’ll be able to squeeze some time in between Wheel of Fortune and The Bachelor.

  1. Set Realistic Goals:

As I said earlier, take your time.  Start with just 3 days a week.  20-30 minutes of cardio work and the same with weight training.  You’ll feel so much better and be invigorated to continue!

  1. Hire a Personal Trainer:

If you’re unsure what to do and/or where to start, this can be key to your fitness lifestyle.  They hold you accountable and can greatly help you minimize mistakes and maximize your training time.  If it’s not in your budget, then find a training buddy who is knowledgeable being around the gym.  Both can be invaluable.

  1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize:

Your Health.  Let me repeat that…Your Health!  I know, it’s much easier to sit on the couch and put your feet up.  Research has shown that you can prevent numerous diseases by exercising, including; cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia and high blood pressure.  Exercise reduces body fat, tones your muscles, helps you look great and boosts your self-esteem.  Isn’t this worth the time it takes to do a little exercise?  We can’t get this from sitting on the couch eating potato chips.

  1. Make it Convenient:

Exercise should be an enjoyable part of your day, a time you look forward to and embrace. But keeping this attitude will be difficult if you have to travel a long way to the gym before you even start your workout. You’ll also be much less likely to stay committed if exercising is a hassle.  To make exercise as convenient as possible, pick a gym that is very close to your home or place of work. If you’re a morning exerciser, pack your gym bag the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning. If you exercise after work, bring your bag with you to the office so you can stop at the gym on your way home.  Remember, also that weekends are not about “just relaxing”.  After having that Saturday (or, Sunday) morning cup of coffee, get off the couch and go to the gym.  You’ll be glad you did!

6.  Learn About Proper Nutrition:

If you have the resources, see a nutritionist, your trainer or someone who you know personally that has already done the nutritional work in their lives and pick their brains.  Plus, there is a ton of information on the internet about proper nutrition.  This is probably THE most important part of your training lifestyle.  You won’t regret it! Please don’t go to the gym and do your weight training and cardio work, then stop at Burger King on the way home.  It doesn’t work that way…I can personally guarantee that you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself if you begin a proper nutrition regimen.  Remember, nothing tastes as good as fit feels…!

  1. Track Your Progress:

Keep track of small successes.  Short-term goals are much easier to make and those little accomplishments will help keep you motivated!  If you need to lose weight, don’t obsess over the total amount…your goal should be focusing on the first five pounds…then, the next five.  After awhile, you’ll have reached your goal!

  1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up:

If you “fall off the exercise/nutritional wagon” for a day or so, don’t throw in the towel.  Just get back at it!  One day at a time…!

You can do this…I know you can.  It is thought that it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and about six-months for it to become a part of your life and your personality.  Remember, this won’t happen overnight, just be persistent and patient!

If you’re reading this and I can assist you in any way, please reach out to me at anytime.  I’m always here to help…!

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Staying Healthy…

My wife and I recently attended a health & wellness symposium in New Mexico given by a physician from Lubbock, Texas. His approach to medicine is not one of “diagnose and treat with medication”…it is one of finding the root causes, and treating from there. This intrigued me to the core. As with my personal training clients, I don’t do the same exercise movements with everyone as each client is different…and so are medical patients. This physician’s (Dr. Ben Edwards, www.veritasmedical.com ) goal is simple:

“Our long-term goal for every patient is for them to become symptom and disease-free, be able to eliminate all prescription medications, and achieve their ideal body weight. We believe in addressing the root causes of your health challenges.”

Sometimes throwing medications at physical maladies can often be like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. They can help for a bit, but often mask the deeper issues. And, the problem most often is that folks won’t change their unhealthy habits as they “feel good” on their medications because their “numbers” are good. So, they continue unhealthy eating and drinking and don’t exercise. I’m not disparaging medicines as they obviously have their place, but when we can find the root cause(s) of our physical issues, we’re apt to be more healthy, happy and fit. And, I believe that ridding the body of inflammation through proper nutrition, supplements and exercise is the key.

Knowledge is power. Know what your personal issues are and what could be the root causes, and then change those behaviors that contribute to them. Do your research and consult with your physician. As a caution though…DO NOT make any changes unless your physician say’s it is OK to do so. Be informed, be smart and be healthy!

My wife came across a great article regarding high blood pressure that discusses this mindset along these same lines…

I also like this physician’s motto: “You’ll never medicate your way out of diseases you behave yourself into”.

http://www.drfitt.com/High-Blood-Pressure_c_27.html

Let’s Get Busy…!

I’m going to break from my normal musings and offer something I posted on Exact Fit Personal Training’s Facebook page, which is the business I own.

Here is a training “tip of the day” from Exact Fit!
The AMRAP (the term, humbly borrowed from CrossFit)

The word AMRAP stands for “As Many Rounds As Possible”. You complete a training circuit as many times as you can within a given time frame. For example, a 5 minute AMRAP can be: 5 deadlifts, 10 pull-ups, 10 push-ups. When 5 minutes is up, record your total rounds completed. The beauty of the AMRAP is that you can choose just about any group of exercise or training movements you’d like.

Personally, I like choosing pulling, pushing and pressing movements that may involve full or slight squatting motions. I’ll put weight on a bar and do 5 push presses, 5 upright bar rows and 5 push-ups…or, I’ll do 10 of each. I’ll also increase the rep count, lighten the weight and do the AMRAP for 20-30 minutes. This is an absolute killer…you power through the movements without stopping. Then, you try and beat your rounds completed the next time you do it. I believe the key to fitness (again, thank you CrossFit) is “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements”. And, the AMRAP is a great way to do this!

The AMRAP combinations you can do are endless and you’re only limited by your own imagination. Some Exact Fit clients may agree (or, “painfully” disagree) that the Stepper AMRAP is the best. This is an Exact Fit “invention”…get on a stepper machine for varying intensities for 3-4 minutes, then jump off and do varying dumbbell and/or bar movements for 3-4 minutes, then get back on the stepper and repeat. Do this for 30-45 minutes…it is an absolute sweat “fest” and will tax you to the very top of your physical limits. When doing the bar/dumbbell movements try and stay away from single muscle movements such as the bicep curl, shoulder raise or tricep extension, etc. These are vanity exercises. You want to do functional movements…ones that create overall body work and core fitness. Squat thrusters, punching movements, Olympic lifts, modified Olympic lifts or any movements that causes the hip to “break” (like squatting) or slight bending of the hip or power movements pushing weight overhead or down toward the floor and back up. You want the body to use dynamic movements to create strength AND power!!!

The mantra among Exact Fit clients is this: “The Stepper AMRAP…it’s no joke, ‘cause in the process, you’ll get smoked!”

ENJOY!!!

Photo: Here is a training “tip of the day” from Exact Fit!<br />
The AMRAP (humbly borrowed from CrossFit)</p>
<p>The word AMRAP stands for “As Many Rounds As Possible”.  You complete a training circuit as many times as you can within a given time frame. For example, a 5 minute AMRAP: 5 deadlifts, 10 pull-ups, 10 push-ups. When 5 minutes is up, record your total rounds completed.  The beauty of the AMRAP is that you can choose just about any group of exercise movements you’d like.  </p>
<p>Personally, I like choosing pulling, pushing and pressing movements.  I’ll put weight on a bar and do 5 push presses, 5 upright bar rows and 5 push-ups.  I’ll also increase the rep count, lighten the weight and do the AMRAP for 20-30 minutes.  This is an absolute killer…you power through the movements without stopping.  Then, you try and beat your rounds completed the next time you do it.  </p>
<p>The AMRAP combinations you can do are endless.  Some Exact Fit clients may agree (or, disagree) that the Stepper AMRAP is the best.  This is an Exact Fit “invention”…get on a stepper machine for varying intensities for 3-4 minutes, then jump off and do varying dumbbell and/or bar movements for 3-4 minutes, then back on the stepper and repeat.  Do this for 30-45 minutes…it is an absolute sweat “fest” and will tax you to your very limits.  The mantra among Exact Fit clients is this: “The Stepper AMRAP…it’s no joke, ‘cause in the process, you’ll get smoked!”<br />
ENJOY!!!

 

Until “I” get tired…

During U.S. Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, SC, our Senior Drill Instructor used to make us do “bends & thrusts”, also known as squat thrusters. We would do these until we literally until we lost our lunches. Sorry, as I know that doesn’t paint a pretty picture, especially when it involves the majority of a 75 man USMC recruit platoon. He absolutely reveled in yelling at us in that raspy, throaty, guttural voice that only a United States Marine Corps Drill Instructor is allowed to own, “OK, you little worms, bends & thrusts until I GET TIRED…UNDERSTAND ME?…BEGIN!!!” (strong emphasis on the word “I” and “begin”). In unison we would reply “Sir, yes Sir!” Then, the enjoyment commenced. To do bends & thrusts, you start in a standing position, squat down into a frog stance on all fours, throw your legs behind you into a push-up position, bring your legs up and back into the frog stance then stand up. Doesn’t sound too difficult, huh? Try 10 or 15 of ‘em. Doing these for a mere 5 minutes seemed like we had been doing them for a week straight. When he was really angry with us for any one of a myriad of screw-ups that only a “scum of the earth” recruit could commit (that was just one of his pet names for us), he would add push-ups and jumps in the mix. He called them “fun and games.” All this occurred a little less than 40 years ago…and I still wake up in a cold sweat when I have nightmares about Parris Island.
rose garden
All these “fun and games” taught me quite a valuable lesson though. No, not the one that I was insane for enlisting in the Marine Corps. It taught me the invaluable lesson of the trying to keep my body as fit as I can. I came home from boot camp a “lean, green, fighting machine”, ready to do the work that Uncle Sam had so painstakingly prepared me to do. Although today however, I may not be as lean and mean, but I still realize the importance of keeping in shape. In this season of holiday cookies, cakes, pastries and fatty carb loaded foods designed to put you into a semi-catatonic state of couch hibernation, lifting a weight or getting our heart rates up is usually relegated to 12 ounce curls or walking around the mall.
couch potato
Before moving to Colorado, I worked in a large health club as a personal trainer in southern New Jersey and I know this is the time of year that folks start to think…”Yeah, starting January 1st, I’m gonna’ start exercising.” And, I also know that by Valentine’s Day, the majority of folks who even start an exercise regimen have long fallen off the fitness wagon. But, it doesn’t have to be like that. While I’m well aware that this is the veritable dead horse that has been so badly beaten, I know that with a little effort, we can achieve a decent level of fitness.

So, for the sake of keeping this essay relatively short, I’m going to start with the very basics of fitness and expound on intermediate and advanced fitness work in a later blog. Fitness involves two things, cardiovascular or “cardio” (heart) fitness and muscular/core fitness. Obviously nutrition is involved, but later for that too.

OK, let’s begin here, generally in this order:
1. If you haven’t exercised in a while or are unsure of your physical condition, see your doctor first before starting an exercise program (yeah, I guess that’s about as good a disclaimer as I can give).
2. Commit to setting aside a half hour to an hour of your day for exercising and GO SLOW AT FIRST! Yes, that’s right…a half hour to an hour. Take time from Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy and train your body!
3. If you are a beginner, that’s great! I suggest joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer. You’ll be glad you did so you can learn the proper techniques and not waste your time. No gym near you? Buy some dumbbells (5, 10 & 15 lbs. sets to start) and a good training book or two and begin training, (again, plenty of good info on the ‘net).
4. You’ll want to get your heart rate up, (again, slowly at first). The mantra is “heart rate up, heart rate down.” Start to take walks and allow your heart to adjust to the changes. Learn about your target heart rate during exercise. This is important. There are a ton of websites you can research, just google “target heart rate” and check them out. Work within your THR.
5. Weight training…critically important. If you don’t know how, then learn. If you do know how, then get back to it. Our bodies’ muscle mass greatly depletes over time if they’re not trained, but with some knowledge, initiative and work…you can slow that process down significantly.
6. Lastly, mindset. Don’t think of yourself as “working out”, think of yourself as “training”. I equate working out as using the gym for meeting people and socializing between sets and reps. What usually happens is that you work out for a few seconds and socialize for 10 minutes…then repeat. Training is much different. When you have a training mindset, you’re telling your body it’s time to get to work. You have a goal and nothing is going to stand in your way. It’s time to TRAIN!!!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section. I’d really love to hear your feedback.

You can also click on the Fitness link on the homepage and it’ll take you to a site called CrossFit, (www.crossfit.com). I have been “crossfitting” for over 7 years and it has changed the way I look at fitness. Once you become comfortable with your training regimen, I encourage you to check out CrossFit. Or, check it out anytime…just go to the left hand side of their site where it says “Start Here!.”

Now, let’s get off our duffs and get training, starting today!!! (Or, it’ll be bends & thrusts for you until I get tired!!!)