Friday, December 11, 2009

Extra Holiday Calories Can Improve Your Health!

Get your flavanoids! They're good for your heart. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables for that. Make sure you get enough Omega 3 fats in your diet; they're good fats and can reduce cholesterol and ease the metabolism of bad fats. Salmon, flax seeds, walnuts, and soybeans are good sources of those. Make sure you get enough dairy in your diet; protein, calcium, and Vitamin D are needed for strong bones and will help avoid degenerative disease like osteoporosis. Cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk will cover you there.

Oh, and don't forget about fiber, vitamin C, minerals, and ...
the list goes on an on and on.

Has it occurred to anyone else that if we actually followed all of the nutritional guidance pumped into the media by food companies, supplement companies, and well-intentioned fitness professionals, that we'd all look like sumo wrestlers?

The missing 'ingredient', of course is exercise.

While reading a few things written by other Fitness Professionals around Holiday indulgences this morning, and the creative ways they suggested to restrict calories and abstain from some of your favorite foods during the holidays, it suddenly occurred to me ... duh ... that it's simply easier to exercise than it is to worry about all the extra calories!

Because what's the point of even attending a party or preparing a special meal if you can't fully enjoy it! So, while there are lots of great reasons for exercising, THE MOST SIGNIFICANT BENEFIT OF EXERCISE could very well be that it simply allows us to eat more! Most of us love to eat, and a lot of us exercise just so that we can eat more!

But without exercise, most of us would be obese within 6 months if we consumed all of the food needed for proper nutrition. Or you could pay thousands of dollars per year on organic supplements, though even the best manufactured nutrients fall far short on nutrient quality when compared to natural food sources.

It's well documented that exercise alone improves your heart health, reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and enriches your lifestyle.

And don't forget about Hydration. Water is the body's primary means of cleansing itself by flushing toxins out the back (bottom) door. Further, proper hydration improves digestive efficiency, reduces blood pressure, and improves the appearance of skin, nails, and hair.

We've all heard that we should drink 8 glasses of water each day. You know what, that's a lot of water! It actually takes significant, conscious effort to consume that much water on a daily basis. But crank out a few hot cardio intervals, or knock down one of our HEAT programs, or blast through 35 sets in 45 minutes, and you'll have 20 ounces through your body before you event think about food!

The primary vessel we drive, our bodies, simply requires exercise induced thirst to get in enough fluids on a regular basis. Further, no matter how hard you scrub, you still need a good sweat to flush the body odor creating bacteria out of the pores in your skin.

So, there you have it! Never mind that exercise improves your health and reduces the risk of acquiring all types of disease and illness.

Exercise primarily gives us the privilege to eat and drink more and
be healthier for it.

With the holiday season upon us, go ahead and eat!
Just make sure you exercise too!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Exercise Quickies Beat December Distractions

December is one of the toughest months of the year for Fitness Professionals . As if busy lives, work schedules, and family affairs weren't enough, extra travel, holiday parties, out of town guests, and office gatherings all add to the normal daily stresses. Making time to exercise is always a challenge, but this added pressure can be a nightmare for trainers trying to keep their clients on track!

Of course, in the blindered world of a Fitness Professional (because no matter what the question is, exercise is almost always one of the best answers), we'd argue that if you're life gets so stressful that you don't have time to exercise, you really can't afford to NOT exercise. Indeed, exercise is the ultimate anti-anxiety medicine.

And here's another suggestion: to roll through all of the December distractions try Frequent Exercise Quickies.

Rather than spending your normal 75 to 90 minutes working out 3 or 4 days per week this month, plan instead for training 4 or 5 days per week (one extra) for just (much shorter) 45 to 55 minutes.

Normally, we coach clients (and you should plan) for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes warming up before your workout and 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular work following your session. Along with your 45 minute session, this give you have a standard 75 to 90 minute workout. While that doesn't seem like a huge time commitment to us, it can certainly seem intimidating when there's cooking to be done, the in-laws are inbound, and you have an unfinished gift shopping list.

A 45 minute workout, on the other hand, is short, sweet, and
mentally conquerable
. Indeed, just showing up is the hardest part!

Heck, it's not even a workout ... more of a workoutling ... a workout too small, cute, and incomplete to be a real workout. Get in, get it done, and be on your way. The key, of course, is that if you reduce you cardio and resistance workout volumes, you'll really, really need that additional exercise quickie per week!

Training for 45 minutes 4 times per week (200 total minutes) instead of 75 minutes 3 times per week (225 total minutes) also has other advantages.

For one, you raise your metabolism one extra day per week. Not only do you burn calories while exercising, but you'll burn additional calories recovering from the exercise after your workout. And this extra day of recovery effort more than covers for the reduced total volume (25 minutes).

Additionally, the 4th workoutling per week gives you one more boost of energy to make it through stressful days, and another shot of endorphins to make the holiday stress more tolerable.

If you're training with FT, your session pace is always quick and with aerobic elements, but if you're getting your (regular or extra) workoutlings on your own, keep these things in mind for effective exercise quickies:
  1. It's just 50 minutes, so plan for being seriously committed for the entire workout; it goes fast!
  2. Rest no more than 1 minute between sets
  3. Drink plenty of water
  4. Wear your headphones, and don't make eye contact with anyone else in the gym (no time to get pulled away into a conversations)
  5. Look ahead, and plan your next exercise before you're finished with your current one
  6. Have an alternate exercise in mind with alternate equipment to keep you moving should your equipment get taken before you get there
  7. Go relatively light with high repetitions (20+) on the 1st set of any exercise (the abbreviated warmup will increase the risk of injury, so you'll need to warmup in-line)
  8. Plan for no fewer than 10-12 repetitions on any exercise (again, making the workout more aerobic in nature to compensate for reduced cardio)