Archives for November 2013

Burn Calories and Tone Your Tush With the 30 Day Burpee Challenge

I love burpees

Need a way to burn off some of those extra holiday calories?  One of the 30 day burpee challenges may be just what you need.

The standard burpee – like we did in grade school P.E. class – gets your heart rate up and works every muscle in the body.  Burpees are back in vogue now that body-weight exercise programs and HIIT and Tabata workouts are trending.  If you’re like me you have a love-hate relationship with burpees.  I’ve decided to suck up the hate part and have committeed to doing a couple of sets every time I work out.

There are several different burpee challenges circulating on the internet so you have a few to choose from. Pick your poison and get started on one of the challenges below.

But first, in case you’ve forgotten what an actual burpee looks like, here’s a picture:

Burpee

Pinterest photo

1.  Spartan Race 30-Day Burpee Challenge – This challenge is pretty simple.  You do 30 burpees every day for 30 days.  You can break them up into sets of five, 10, 20 and so on.  Whatever works for you.  This challenge has a Facebook page that you can illicit support from.   Click here to join the challenge:  Spartan Race Facebook Page

2.  30 Day Fitness.com  – This 30 day burpee challenge starts out a little slower than the Spartan Race challenge but you really have to up your game by day nine.  Each day you do five more burpees than you did the day before so by the end of the challenge you’re doing 100 (ouch!).  I like this challenge because it breaks you in a little slower, but doing 100 burpees is huge for most of us I’m guessing.  The 30 Day Fitness.com challenge starts here.

3. He and She Eat Clean Bikini Body Burpee Challenge – It’s never too early to start working on your bikini body.  It may seem like you have plenty of time if you live here in Illinois with me, but why mess around and not be ready when the sun finally does make it’s appearance?  This challenge takes it to the next level by adding pushups to the burpees.  And Tiffany of He and She Eat Clean says you can add a set of three to five pound dumbbells if you are looking for even more of a challenge.  Thanks, Tiffany.  I think the no-weight challenge will sufficiently kick my you-know-what.  Check out the bikini challenge here.

4.  Forward From The Heart Burpee Challenge – This one is probably the most doable.  By day 30 of the challenge you’re doing 30 burpees which doesn’t sound too bad after looking at some of the other programs.  You even get some rest days throughout the month.  The goal with the Forward From The Heart challenge is, by the end, to be able to do 30 in a row. Click here for The Heart Burpee Challenge.

Not excited about the burpee challenge just yet?  Here’s a burpee challenge trifecta for you:

5.  Shrinkingjeans.net Gold Medal Ass Challenge – As if the burpee, or the bupree plus pushup challenges weren’t  bad enough, the Shrinkingjeans have created a squat + burpee + wall sit workout.  By day 31 you will be doing 100 squats, two minutes of burpees, and a two minute wall sit.  The good news is you can set your own goals for the two minute burpee blast. Thankfully, Sunday is a day of rest in this challenge because you’re going to need it. The Shrinkingjeans challenge is here.

All of these challenges can be done at home without any equipment.  They will help you bash the winter blues and head off the cold weather weight gain that happens at this time of year.

Do you have a favorite burpee or squat challenge?  Drop a link to it in the comment box below.

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You Can Beat The Battle of the Bulge This Holiday Season

The season of eating is here.  If you have been trying to lose a few pounds, or trying not gain back what you’ve already lost, this time of year can be a real challenge.

From carry-in dinners at work, to holiday parties, and long shopping days where your only option is food-court fare, at this time of year the focus is on eating.  The good news is there is a way to enjoy the holidays without greeting the New Year with five or six extra pounds to lose.

By implementing these basic strategies you can breeze through the holiday season without going up a pant size.

Beat the Battle of the Bulge

(Flickr photo by Bahrain Personal Training)

1.  Set A Goal – Millions of Americans gain a couple of pounds over the holidays.  While a weight gain of two, three or even five pounds doesn’t seem like a big deal, the problem is many don’t lose it after the holidays which means the pounds stay with them throughout the next year. And the next.

Over the course of several years these extra pounds become a real problem and lead to health risks.  Research by the National Center for Biotechnology has determined that holiday weight gain may be an important contributor to the rising prevalence of obesity.

Even if a weight gain of a few pounds won’t put you in the ‘at risk’ category, you don’t need to strategize so that you you ring in the New Year at the same weight.  Step one is to set a goal to maintain, not gain weight this holiday season.  Write your goal weight down and keep it in a visible place.

2.  Weigh-In Each Week – I’m not a big fan of weekly weigh-ins except in this situation where you can pretty much count on gaining weight if you don’t keep a close eye on it.

Schedule a time each week to weigh in.  To be consistent, make sure you weigh in on the same day of the week, at the same time of day, on the same scale. Track your weight by writing it down in a note book or on an index card.

3.  Create A Weekly Game Plan – On Sunday evening or Monday morning look at your calendar for the upcoming week so you can plan ahead for parties, office food fests, or shopping blitzes that provide too many – or too few – food choices.

Each year at work I offer an annual maintain, don’t gain holiday program and ask employees what their biggest challenges are going to be for the upcoming week.  One employee told me that this week is her husband’s company party, her birthday and her son’s birthday.

My response:  What’s your plan?   We talked through how she was going to navigate all of these special events by exercising portion control, drinking more water, walking more, and filling up on low-calorie fruits and vegetables.

If you take a look at what you’re up against, you’ll be better prepared to meet the challenge.

4.  Use Holiday Make-Over Recipes – Delicious and special holiday foods don’t have to be loaded with calories, sodium, and fat.  I’ve tried many make-over recipes that I find I like more than the original.

There are some excellent resources for healthy holiday recipes and they are no more than a mouse click away.  Two of my favorites are:

  • Skinny Kitchen.com – Skinny Kitchen has tons of healthy recipes that do not sacrifice flavor at all.  It also has a section dedicated to the holidays.
  • Live Better America – Live Better specializes in make-over favorites like green bean casserole and stuffing. There are so many recipes to choose from here, you’ll need to get started early selecting which ones you want to try.

Several months ago I wrote an article that highlighted the top ten websites for healthy recipes.  You will find tons of holiday recipes at any and all of these.  Check out the article here:  Top Ten Websites for Healthy Recipes.

5.  Keep Moving – I know this one seems like a no brainer, but it is harder to find time for physical activity during the holidays. You may find you don’t have an hour every day to go to the gym, or out for a walk or run.  But you do have time to take a couple of walking breaks every day, and squeeze in two or three 10 minute workouts during the week.

Any physical activity you can get in will help keep those extras pounds at bay.  Dust off the pedometer, put it on and set a goal to walk 10,000 steps everyday even if you have to walk in place at your desk at home or at work.  Little things add up.

6.  Have Realistic Expectations – Your life isn’t a page from Pinterest.  At least mine isn’t. All of the beautiful and glamorous images we’re inundated with from web sites and television commercials make us yearn for the picture perfect holiday.  This quest for perfection can set you up for a stressful holiday season and the side effects of stress are over eating and over drinking.

Find at least one thing to be grateful for each day. If you do find yourself wishing your life could replicate of one of the top Pinterest boards, get out of there and opt for web sites that will keep your sense of humor in tact but won’t leave you feeling like an epic fail.

What Else?

Remember that although we call the time from Halloween to New Years Day ‘the holidays’ it really isn’t one big event. It is a series of mini-events that come close enough together that they seem they like one.  If you separate them out and have a strategy in place to deal with them one by one you’ll get the best results.

What tips do you have for staying healthy this holiday season?  Be Social! Share! 

Three Kickboxing Workout DVDs for Your Holiday Wish List

Kickboxing workouts topped the list of ‘most popular exercise programs’ in the 90’s.  Recently they’ve taken a back seat to other popular formats like HIIT, CrossFit, Barre, and Zumba.

But kickboxing has something unique to offer in the areas of cardio fitness and workout enjoyment. Fitness pros like Cathe Friedrich, Amy Bento Ross and Patrick Goudeau continue to create fun and challenging cardio kickboxing workouts that will make you miss the craze of a decade ago.

If you feel like you could use a break from the 10 minute Tabata, HIIT and core workouts, here are three new kickboxing DVDs you must try.  All of these full length workouts will get your heart rate up and keep it up for 40 minutes to an hour and I promise, you won’t be dealing with the boredom factor.

One or all would be the perfect gift to get or give this holiday season and are just what you need to get you motivated and excited to work out in 2014.

1.  Amy Bento Ross’ Body Box

Core Work

Challenging Core Work in Amy’s Body Box.

If you like to box you’ll love this DVD.  Amy’s creative choreography puts a new twist on some basic moves.  She adds pivots and turns to kicks that will keep you moving across the floor rather than standing in place like many kickboxing workouts call for.  If you’re a fan of intervals (I know I am) you’ll like the way Amy alternates cardio boxing with challenging compound strength moves and core work.

Body Box isn’t overly choreographed so you won’t have to spend all of your time trying to learn the moves.  It’s a good balance between not hard enough and overwhelming.  Amy gives excellent cues and has good energy.  The DVD has an 8 minute warm-up followed by 55 minutes of aerobic/toning intervals and an eight minute cool down.  You can preview the DVD at Collage Video where it sells for $19.99.

2.  Cathe Friedrich’s Rockout Knockout

Cathe layers challenging kickboxing patterns in

Cathe layers challenging kickboxing patterns in Rockout Knockout.

If you’re a Cathe fan you know that she never lets you down.  Cathe’s Rockout Knockout is her new kickboxing release that consists of three segments.  The first segment provides some of the basic jabs and kicks combined with athletic drills for a new challenge. The second segment increases in intensity and has some new, and somewhat complicated moves to learn.  The third segment features four layered, add-on patterns that she breaks down to teach.

I would consider this to be an intermediate workout.  It may not be the hardest workout you’ve ever done but you can add intensity by using weighted boxing gloves for some segments of the the workout which is what Cathe and her team does.  Cathe’s cueing is perfect and the music is the best you will find on a workout DVD.

Rockout Knockout is a 55 minute workout that has an eight minute warm up, 41 minute aerobic session, and a six minute cool down.  You can preview the workout at her web site where it sells for $22.99.

3.  Patrick Goudeau presents Kickbox Burn

Patrick passes the baton to Heather Condorf in Kickbox Burn.

Patrick passes the baton to Heather Condorf in Kickbox Burn.

One of my favorite workouts is Patrick Goudeau’s Play Ball.  It is creative and fun, and his personality is an absolute motivator.  Was I disappointed when I found out that Patrick wasn’t leading any of the Kickbox Burn workout?  A little.  But I equally liked Heather Corndorf who has a style and energy that matches his.

Kickbox Burn introduces four ‘rounds’ of kickboxing that all have nice intensity.  I love her four jabs/burpee combo that gets the heart rate up over the top, and the wide jog with quick jabs that’s reminiscent of Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Kick.  Heather is high-energy and delivers the ‘burn’ in a fun, friendly manner.

The workout is medium to high impact but can be modified with lower impact moves where needed. The DVD is 51 minutes long.  It has a six minute warm-up, 40 minute aerobic session, and five minute cool-down. You can preview Kickbox Burn at Collage Video where it sells for $19.99.

Change of Pace

These kickboxing-based workouts keep you moving longer than the trending fitness programs that promote short, quick workouts and there is value in doing a longer duration workout a couple of times a week.  Exercising for an hour or more at a time will increase the amount of calories and fat you burn and help you improve your fitness level.

If someone asks you what they can get you this year or you’re participating in a holiday gift exchange with some of your fitness peers, any or all of these workout DVDs would be the perfect gift.

What’s your favorite boxing workout? Be Social! Share!

What If Fitness Professionals Stopped Promising Weight Loss?

Today I would like to give a big shout out to Isabel Foxen Duke, certified health coach and emotional eating expert and author of the article “If I Don’t Sell You Weight Loss, I Won’t Make Any Money”.

Isabel’s article, “If I Don’t Sell You Weight Loss” that she wrote for Huffington Post addresses what many wellness experts believe.  Wellness coaches, personal trainers, fitness instructor, and maybe even nutritionists, are afraid that if you can’t promise someone that you can make them thin, they probably won’t be very interested in your services.

But, Isabel decides to take a risk by telling people the truth.  The truth is that people want something more than being thin.

Weight Loss Schedule

There has to be more to it than this. (Flickr photo by UrbaneWomenMa)

From there she lists 15 things that she wants her clients to know.  For example, “I don’t really want to make you thin. . . . I want to help you fix your relationship with food.”  And, “I want you to cry when you’re upset, rather than diet or binge-eat.”

Here’s a couple more:  “I want you to Google sentences that don’t include the words “Paleo” or “cleanse”.  And, finally my favorite, “I want you to feel like you can eat a cookie without falling off the wagon and into a whole box.”

I want what Isabel wants.  And I’m willing to take a risk and bet that there are plenty of other wellness professionals out there that want it too.  We want people to have a health-centered approach to life and stop worrying about the number on the scale.

A health centered approach to life doesn’t mean you ignore your weight, chuck your healthy eating and portion control habits out the window, or give up exercise.  Rather, it means that you embrace the six dimensions of wellness and focus on a number of things that, when interconnected, will make you feel healthy, energetic, and whole.

Embracing The Six Dimensions of Wellness

The Six Dimension of Wellness were created by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institue (NWI).  The NWI defines wellness as: The active process through which people become aware of, and make choices towards, a more successful existence.

The six dimensions of wellness model is based on the following:

1.  Occupational – The enrichment of life through work, and its interconnectedness to living and playing.

2.  Emotional – Self esteem, self-control, and determination as a sense of direction.

3.  Physical – The benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength and vitality as well as personal responsibility, self-care and when to seek medical attention.

4.  Intellectual – Creative and stimulating mental activities, and sharing your gifts with other.

5.  Social – How a personal contributes to their environment and community, and how to build better living space and social networks.

6.  Spiritual – The development of belief systems, values, and creating a world-view.

By applying the six dimensions a person becomes aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and they how they contribute to healthy living.

What Else Do You Want?

Are you struggling with the ups and downs of dieting?  Do you obsess about your weight and how you feel you look to yourself and the world even when you’re at your goal weight?  Of maybe you beat yourself over eating that cookie and end up falling into the bag.

Living well, being healthy, and embracing a holistic health-centered approach to life goes way beyond the number on the scale.  To take the first step you must face the truth that you really do want more – a lot more – than being thin.

You want to have a healthy relationship with food.  You want to go out to eat without experiencing a mild panic attack over what’s on the menu.  You want to be able to enjoy the holidays without counting every calorie. You want to live your life minus the yo-yo diets, weight-loss supplements, food obsessions, and binges.

Thank you Isabel for saying so well what many fitness professional have been thinking.  We may not be able to make you thin.  But, give us time, and we’ll make you healthy and whole.  You can read Isabel’s article here: If I Don’t Sell You Weight Loss, I Won’t Make Any Money.

If you liked this article you might also like, “Five Tips For Adopting A Health-Centered Approach To Life”. Be sure and subscribe or follow me on Facebook or Twitter to receive article updates.

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The Best Recipes for Butternut Squash Soup and Bread

I love winter squash.  Acorn, spaghetti and butternut are three of my favorites.  There are a wide variety of winter squashes  available in the market place in the fall and they are very inexpensive to buy.

I purchased two butternut squash a couple of weeks ago because they were only a couple of dollars each.  I couldn’t pass them up!

Butternut Squash1

The first one I baked and served as a side dish, like I would sweet potatoes, or rice. While I was still trying to figure out what to do with the second one, one of my Facebook friends posted a Butternut Squash Bread recipe that I decided to try which used only about one fourth of the squash.

The remainder I used to make a delicious and creamy butternut squash soup.  The soup recipe is below.  To see the bread recipe, click here:  Butternut Squash and Cranberry Bread.

But first, let’s look at what’s so great about butternut squash, besides its flavor.

Health Benefits of Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is an outstanding source for antioxidants.  In fact, recent research shows that  no single food provides a greater percentage of certain carotenoid antioxidants than winter squash. Plus butternut squash is loaded with vitamins A, C, B6 and K, along with potassium, and fiber.  And one cup of baked butternut squash has only 75 calories. Butternut squash also contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s, and other properties that lower inflammation in the cells.

There are many ways to prepare and use winter squash.  This butternut squash soup is absolutely delightful and could be paired with the bread and a salad for a meal. I made it for the first time tonight and we all agreed it is our favorite homemade soup.  It is sweet, creamy and nutritious.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 Butternut Squash cooked and peeled
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups of low-fat chicken stock
1/4 Half-n-half
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the squash until it is almost tender.

* To cook the squash, slice it lengthwise down the center, scoop out the seeds and bake it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until almost soft.  Or, pierce the squash with a knife in several places and microwave for about 10 minutes until almost soft.

Butternut Squash

Allow the squash to cool.  Cut into squares.

Butternut Squash Chunks

Dice one yellow onion. Saute the onion in olive oil and minced garlic until tender.

Add the butternut squash to the onion and olive oil.

Squash with onion and garlic

Add the chicken stock and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the squash from the pan and purée in a food processor.

Pureed Squash

Return the puréed squash to the pan with the chicken broth.  Add broth until you have the consistency of soup you desire and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat. Add the half-n-half and nutmeg and stir.

Serve warm.

Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is absolutely delicious.  The spice of nutmeg mixed with the flavor the the squash, garlic and onion is heavenly and would be a perfect warm-up to a meal for your guests or for your Thanksgiving dinner.

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Study Proves That Positive Self-Talk During A Workout Delays Fatigue

You’re halfway through a HIIT class and the instructor is cueing you to push your limits.  You feel like you’ve hit a wall, but the person next to you not only is keeping up with the instructor but is making it look easy.

You have a couple of choices.  Drop out, catch your breath and get a drink of water.  Or, start sending some positive messages to yourself so that you get to the end without stopping.

New research proves what many of us already believe to be true. Pushing your performance limits during workouts or competitive events may be more closely tied to the verbal messages your brain is sending out than we realize.

Flickr photo by

                       The will to win the race comes from the brain.     (flickr photo by Ethan Lofton)

Mind-Body Research

The mind-body connection was reinforced by researchers from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England who found 24 healthy, physically active young men and women who were willing to push their limits by riding a bike to the point of exhaustion.

The researchers did some basic lab work and measurements on the participants.  Next the participants were asked to pedal on a computerized stationary bike at about 80 percent of their maximum force until they felt they could not continue.

The researchers took recorded measurements while the participants rode the bikes.  They measured each rider’s heart rate, pedaling power, and pace.  Plus, they attached electrodes to their foreheads and cheeks so they could track facial contractions.  Each rider was asked several times throughout the ride and again at the end how hard the ride felt using a scale of zero to 10.

After the initial ride, participants were divided randomly into two groups. The first group was instructed to continue with their normal exercise routine for the next two weeks.  The second group, however, was coached on using positive self talk.  Each volunteer found four phrases that they found to be the most encouraging and were asked to use those during their normal exercise sessions for the next two weeks.  It’s important to note that the participants that were to incorporate the positive self- talk were instructed to avoid using phrases that might be berating or de-motivating.

Two weeks later both groups returned to the research lab and repeated the cycling test.  Participants in the second  group repeated their four phrases either silently to out loud during the ride.

Convincing Results

The results of the study are pretty amazing.  The bikers in the first group repeated their performance.  They rode the same distance at the same pace for about the same amount of time and experienced the same degree of discomfort.

The positive self-talk group however pedaled longer and indicated that the ride felt much easier than the first time. Their measurements showed that their heart rates and facial expressions were the same as they were during the first ride which indicated that the physical exertion had been just as intense.

The research concludes that “motivational self-talk improves endurance performance compared to not using it”, according to Samuele Marcora, the director of exercise research at the University of Kent and senior author of the study.

But, Marcora says to be effective the self-talk has to be consistent and systematic and he suggests that people use phrases that are highly motivating to them and repeat them systematically on a schedule throughout the workout.

Does Your Brain Control Fatigue?

The most interesting point of this research is that it suggests that the feeling of ‘hitting a wall’ that we’ve all experienced, and succumbing to exhaustion may have as much or more to do with our brain than our muscles.  Marcora says, “If the point in time at which people stop exercising was determined solely biologically, self-talk would have no effect.”

But the study shows that self-talk does have an impact.  A positive one.  And it’s a method that can work for you too.

If you want to get the most from your workouts, get busy and find those four phrases that your body responds to in a positive way and start the practice of repeating them during each workout.

What favorite phrase do you use to keep yourself going?  Leave it in the comment box below.

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Figuring Out Your Health Age Just Got Easier.

You no longer need to answer 50 to 100 questions about your health and habits to get an accurate snap shot of your aerobic capacity or health age.  One group of researchers has whittled the popular and lengthy health risk assessment down to seven simple questions.

What's Your Health Age?   Flickr photo by Damian Navas

What’s Your Health Age? Flickr photo by Damian Navas

What’s Your Health Age?

Reserachers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90 using mobile labs. They took a slew of measurements that included height, weight, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. In addition, each person had to fill out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire.

Then, each person was required to run to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill and a V02 max measurement was taken.  Remember, V02 max measures peak oxygen intake which shows how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. It is considered to be the best way to determine aerobic fitness and is a good indicator of a person’s health age.

Next the researchers decided they would see if they could figure out how to estimate V02 max without using a treadmill. They went through all of the results of the data that they had obtained from their research and determined that seven key measurements would give them an accurate picture of V02 max.  Those measurements are: waist circumference, resting heart rate, duration, frequency and intensity of exercise, age and sex.

According to their study published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the researchers placed those seven measurements in an algorithm which allowed them to predict a person’s V02 max and health age with accuracy. The researchers went one step further and created an on-line calculator that will give you a good indicator of your V02max without running on a treadmill.

Why Knowing Your Health Age Is Important

Before taking the on-line assessment you’ll need to determine what your resting heart rate is. The best way to get an accurate resting heart rate is to take it right before you get up in the morning, or sit quietly in a chair for 10 minutes, then count your pulse for one minute.  The V02 max calculator is at Norwegian University of Science and Technology.com.

This quick test may provide surprising results. If your health age is a positive number it will inspire you to keep doing the things you are doing that are having an impact on your health. If the news isn’t so good, you’ll know you need to get started on a good fitness and nutrition plan so that your score will improve by the next time you take it.

There are  benefits to taking the more in-depth health risk assessments that you can find at various locations throughout the web. Typically the longer version HRAs provide you with some good feedback about your results along with suggestions on how to improve or sustain your health. Here’s a link to WebMD’s HRA that is easy to navigate and provides you with talking points for you to take to your doctor.

Both the quickie and longer versions HRAs are worth the time and will provide you with some solid information about what your health age is.

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Leftover Halloween Candy? When In Doubt, Throw It Out!

We had a ton of rain in our area for Halloween this year.  The tricker treater traffic was about half of what it would be in a normal year.  You know what that means?  Leftover Halloweed candy.

Does this look like the mess you're left with?

Does this look like the mess you’re left with? Flickr photo by Rochelle just Rochelle

I don’t want to be the Scrooge of Halloween and certainly don’t want to be compared to the woman in Fargo, ND that said she planned to send a ‘fat’ letter home with overweight trick or treaters instead of a treat.  This helpful (ahem) letter suggested that the parents limit the amount of candy their children eat at Halloween. She argues that she is trying to be helpful.

There is a lot of candy purchased and consumed on Halloween. When it comes to leftover Halloween candy, the garbage is the best place for it. The actual moment when you release the candy into the garbage might be excruciatingly painful but after that you don’t ever have to think about it again.

What To Do? 

On the morning F.M. radio station that I listen to on the way to work the DJs were talking about a lady that takes leftover Halloween candy and freezes it.  A year later she pulls it out of the freezer and passes it out to the trick or treaters again. Everybody thought that was kind of icky.  But . . . . . what do you do with leftover Halloween candy?  It’s a problem!

Do The Math

We all know that when leftover candy is in the house our brain gets in that loop and we’re thinking about it every 30 seconds or so.   After we’ve thought about it every 30 seconds for an hour, we’ve figured out a way to justify eating it:  “If I only eat three of the mini Twix bars it’s only 151 calories. That amounts to nothing really.”

That might be okay for two days, but if you’ve got a boat load of candy and eat three pieces a day for a week, you’ve consumed 1,071 extra calories in candy which may very well keep you from losing that pound you’ve been working on.

Some people think the answer to the problem is to take it to the office and torture the co-workers with it.  Rather than working, they will be thinking about the candy every 30 seconds and deep down they will hate you for it.

Did You Know That:

  • Children on average receive between 3,700 and 7,000 calories worth of Halloween candy each year.
  • They would have to walk for 44 hours to burn off the extra calories
  • Approximately 17 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese; 31 percent are overweight or obese.

Throw It Out; Feed A Child?  Umm. No. 

I beg of you.  Throw it away and do not feel guilty about it. Despite what our mother’s may have told us, throwing away food that we don’t want or need does not have any impact on a child starving somewhere across the globe. To help a hungry child we can donate to mini Twix bars it’s only 151 calories, 3,700 and 7,000 calories, or Plan USA.

You can throw away the candy and still help feed a child.

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Why You Should Forget Dieting and Learn To Fall In Love With Exercise

A few weeks ago stories were circulating around the web because of the statement trainer Bob Harper of NBC’s Biggest Loser made.  Bob said that when you’re trying to lose weight “diet trumps exercise”.

In a Fox News article, Harper said, “It’s all about your diet.  I used to think a long time ago that you can beat everything you eat out of you and it’s just absolutely not the case.” Harper says what he hears from people is that they just want to get skinny.

He’s right.  That is what people want.  And, in their attempt to achieve that they are willing to try crazy diets (can you say baby food?), pills, shakes, and even surgery.  All of these are very effective weight-loss methods as long as you stay on them.  Once you ‘go off’ of the diet and resume your normal lifestyle, the pounds begin to creep back on.

Bracelet collage

Statistics show that almost 95% of people that lose weight will regain it, although, clearly that number is debatable since it’s impossible to accurately track. Think of the people that you know that have lost weight. Have they gained it back?

I organize the Weight Watchers at Work program where I’m employed and I don’t know anyone who has been through the program one time.  Most people are ‘back on’ Weight Watchers. Most of the people that I know that have lost weight have 1.) gained some or all of it back or 2.) a daily struggle to stay at their desired weight. And that daily struggle can take the fun out of just about everything!

Have you noticed that when people gain the weight back they blame themselves?  They lost 40 pounds on an amazing diet of two shakes and a freeze-dried heat and eat meal a day that totaled about 800 calories.  Now that the diet has ended – or they’ve run out of money to pay for the food – the pounds are coming back on.  How could anyone be surprised by that?

In my world I listen to many people that are consumed with the number on the scale.  If you jump on in the morning and are down a pound it’s going to be a good day.  Being up a pound is a real buzz kill and sucks the fun out of everything.

Back to Bob

I would agree with Bob Harper when he says diet trumps exercise for weight loss.  As long as we’re talking short term weight loss.  If you want to get 10 pounds off before your high school reunion that takes place in two weeks, or you need to drop some weight to win the iPad in the office weight loss challenge, cutting way back on calories is key.

But, if your goal is to keep the weight off, you might as well accept that you can’t spend the rest of your life counting calories, beating yourself up over splurges, or trying out the latest fad diets or supplements. That’s too exhausting.

Your time would be better spent finding an exercise program that you can fall in love with.  Whether it’s a walking program or Shaun T’s Insanity, find something physical that you like to do and do it on a regular basis.  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Take the time to perfect a sport that you like to play.
  2. Find a sprint triathlon in your area and start training for it.
  3. Forget the mantra that you’re not a runner and learn how to run efficiently and without injury.
  4. Be an overachiever and take the 10,000 steps a day program up a notch to 15,000 or 20,000.
  5. Try CrossFit.  Too hard?  Try Zumba instead.
  6. Start each day with a 15 minute workout from the Be Fit channel on YouTube and end the day with two or three yoga poses.
  7. Launch a 30 day ab or squat challenge at your workplace.
  8. Go to your local library and check out workout DVDs that you can do at home.
  9. Do lunges, push-ups and planks every day.
  10. Jump rope.
  11. Do all of the above.

We all know that there is nothing that matches the mental and physical health benefits that regular exercise provides.  Exercise has a positive impact on every system of the human body.  It is the secret to avoiding type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many forms of cancer.

  • Strict, low-calorie diets weaken your bones. Exercise strengthens them.
  • When you lose weight from dieting you lose precious lean muscle mass. Exercise increases muscle mass as well as your metabolic rate.
  • Being on a diet is a bummer and can leave you feeling like a failure.  Exercise produces endorphins that reduce stress and the risk of depression.
  • Crazy diets like the plastic tongue patch or tube feeding make you think that if you have to eat like that forever, you don’t want to live.  Exercise reduces your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death.

The Fox News article that quoted Bob Harper went on to say that when you go on a diet your chances of keeping the weight off improve with exercise.  Plus, I would be negligent if I didn’t point out that’s it’s a fallacy to think that as long as you exercise you should be able to eat everything you want and not gain a pound.  Not true!  Two hours of spin class won’t burn off a BigMac and fries.

If you’re thinking about which weight-loss strategy to deploy next, the first step should be to find some physical activity programs that you can fall in love with. Get as busy as you can doing those.  Then, in a few weeks, see if you are still preoccupied with the scale.  If you are, send me an e-mail.

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