Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Confession #3

I started out with the best of intentions. Even though I was attending a wedding reception with a group of good friends, I vowed not to have any alcohol or junk food. I wasn't feeling well, and both of those things would only make the problem worse. I started out fine. I only drank water and Diet Coke while my friends took advantage of the open bar, and sampled just a bite of the delicious wedding cake after dinner.
But then we moved to the after party. The only non-alcoholic beverage was more Diet Coke. I don't really like Diet Coke. I was bored with water. So I figured just one Mike's Hard Lemonade couldn't hurt. Then the munchies came out. I indulged in chips and M&Ms some other junky things. And I paid for it all by having a wicked stomachache wake me up in the middle of the night. I'm a 29-year-old adult who gave in to peer pressure despite my best intentions.
Where did I go wrong? First, I didn't have any good alternative options. It's easy to feel deprived if those around you are enjoying fancy cocktails while you're stuck with plain soda that you don't really enjoy. A quick search of the web shows plenty of low-calorie non-alcoholic cocktails that offer plenty of flavor, so I don't feel as if I'm missing a thing, even if I'm not drinking alcohol. The same principle applies to the munchies. Even grabbing a bag of baked chips and some low fat dip to bring along to the after party would have given me a snack I could enjoy without feeling deprived.
The moral of this story is to set yourself up for success. It's natural to want a treat when everyone else around you is indulging. The trick is to make sure that you have treats available that fit your diet so that you can indulge guilt-free and stick to enjoying the party!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Moves-The Plank

The classic yoga plank is a great all-over strengthener and toner. Not only does it strengthen your core, your legs and shoulders get a workout too.

To begin, rise off the floor onto your palms and toes. Fingers should be spread with fingertips pressing into the floor and shoulders should stay aligned directly above the wrists. Be sure to keep a slight bend in your elbow and don't lock out the joint. Your hips should be just lifted until you feel your abs engage.

If your hips are too high or too low, the workload on your core will be reduced and the move will feel easier. When your hips are in the right spot with the abs engaged, you'll know it. Trust me.

If a full plank puts too much pressure on your wrists, modify the move by doing it on your elbows.

If starting on your toes is too much to begin, modify the move by supporting yourself on your knees and work up to holding up on the toes.

Begin by holding the plank for 15 seconds at a time, repeating 4 times. By adding 5 seconds each week, build up to holding for 1 full minute.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Weight Maintenance Trick #4 - Accountability

When it comes to losing or maintaining weight, going it alone is hard. I'll admit, I'm much more likely to eat healthy when I know that someone else will be checking my food diary. The same goes for my workout journal. It seems that when subjected to the light of someone else's scrutiny, suddenly all the excuses and justifications I made to myself don't sound as convincing. So when you're trying to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, or any combination of the above, don't be afraid to enlist help. Whether it's hiring a trainer, enlisting a trusted friend or family member, or joining an online community, a little accountability can go a long way toward keeping you on your path.

In other news, CNN recently ran a report featuring FitOrbit:

If you'd like to try it out, follow the link to my profile and enter the coupon code MRD0709 at checkout for a 10% discount.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Difference Between Knowing and Doing

In reading an article for one of my classes, I came across the following statistic:
Since the release of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health in 1964,
Americans have consumed 17 trillion cigarettes and approximately 10 million people in the United States have died from smoking related causes.
• American Cancer Society
That means that since finding out how detrimental smoking is to your health, millions of people continue to smoke. In fact, young people begin smoking at a rate of 3000 a day. As sobering as these statistics are, I think that they illustrate the point that knowing is much different from doing. We know that smoking is bad for us, but people continue to smoke. We know that exercise is good for us, but we remain on the couch. We know that eating an apple is healthier than a bowl of ice cream, but which do we choose for dessert more often?
Why is it so hard for us to do the things we know are good for us? While I do believe that knowledge is power and that it's important to be educated about issues relating to health and fitness, I don't think that's enough. We can't just know; we have to feel.
Think about taking a trip to the doctor and being told that you have heart disease/diabetes/another chronic disease. Is your reason for changing your diet and beginning exercise simply wanting to see the numbers on a test go down? Or is it because you want to have the longest, healthiest life possible to spend with your family?
So when it's time to motivate yourself to start getting healthy, knowledge is great, but think about the real reasons why you want to be fit and healthy. Those are the things that will keep you going when you'd rather sit on the couch than hit the gym or eat a bag of Oreos for dinner instead of having a healthy meal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Moves-Do A Pull up

In order to keep my workouts exciting and effective, I'm always on the lookout for new or improved exercises. That means scouring the Internet, looking through magazines, and taking classes to find new ideas and to spur my own creativity. This program from Women's Health Magazine for working your way up to doing unassisted pull ups is one of my favorites. The traditional body weight pull up, if done correctly, is a great exercise for the back and biceps. Plus, being able to do a pull up is pretty darn cool and gives a great sense of accomplishment. And it's not just for women! I used a modified version of this program for my brother, and now he's able to do pull ups on his own. He's living proof that new exercises can be a great thing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

8 Reasons to Appreciate Your Body

This list was published in the most recent issue of Shape magazine, and I thought it was too good not to share.
  1. Because it's unique; no one else has the same one.
  2. Because it's capable of extraordinary feats, enabling you to run, climb, jump, lift, squat, snuggle, and spoon.
  3. Because no matter how badly you treat it, it's willing to give you another chance.
  4. Because it's expressive, telling you how it feels (if you pay attention!) and broadcasting to others how you feel about it.
  5. Because, let's face it, confidence is pretty sexy.
  6. Because your daughter must learn to love hers. So true. I'd never want any of my gorgeous nieces to be as hard on themselves as I am on myself.
  7. Because somebody out there (or many somebodies!) admires, covets, and adores it. I see this every day in my line of work. Women with bodies that others would kill for pick apart each tiny perceived flaw instead of appreciating what they've got.
  8. Because you'll regret not loving it more later. This one hits home. Looking back, there were times in my life that I was in great shape, but I didn't appreciate it. I wish I would've enjoyed it more at the time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Trying Something New

When it comes to working out, I have a pretty standard routine that I follow. Cardio comes from swimming, biking, or running. Period. Until Saturday. Saturday I did Zumba. Now, anyone who knows me well enough will tell you that I have zero internal sense of rhythm. Therefore, dance classes are not really my thing. However, I think that one of the best things to do to keep the routine of exercising fresh and exciting is to change it up. Trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone is a great way to renew your commitment to your fitness routine and rediscover your passion for the act of exercising.
So, I went to Zumba class and, avoiding all mirrors, I shook my groove thing. And guess what? I had fun! I got a great cardio workout and I had a good time doing it. Not only did I find a new way to exercise, when I went back to my swimming/biking/running routine, it felt fresher. Sometimes a little change can do a lot of good.