What You Can Learn From Shaun T: You Can Do This!

“Every person has a unique gift or talent that they are meant to share with the world. That is why you are on this planet . . . . because you have something to offer that makes everyone better. Let your light shine today and every day. Because without your light, the work would be dark.” – Shaun T

Flickr Photo by: Vital Worldwide

Flickr Photo by: Vital Worldwide

Shaun is known for his big guns and ripped abs. He’s also got a big heart and a passion for helping other people be the absolute best they can be. He’s worked hard for his fitness icon stardom and had to overcome some challenges to get where he is today.

Before Shaun became known a fitness icon for Beach Body’s Hip Hop Abs and Insanity series he was a dance choreographer in New Jersey. In a podcast for NPR’s “My Big Break” series, Shaun says at the time, he was in an abusive relationship with a partner that was not supportive of his career.

He got a call from a friend in California that encouraged him to come out to Los Angeles for a vacation. While in L.A. he auditioned for a new dance agency. Out of the hundreds of people auditioning for the spots only seven men and five women made the cut. Shaun was one of them and was told that he would be contacted in a couple of weeks if they were interested in him.

Shaun tells NPR, “I was at the laundry mat, with my pocket full of quarters, when I got the phone call that the agency wanted me to move to LA to pursue a career in dance.”

Shaun T Meets Beach Body

“Believe it or not, Insanity is very difficult for me to do!” — Shaun T

He moved to L.A. to lead workout dance classes. In not time his classes were full.  That’s when Beach Body discovered him and set his iconic career in motion.

Shaun’s first Beach Body project was Hip Hop Abs, then Rockin’ Body followed by Focus T25 and finally, Insanity. It’s amazing to hear him admit that Insanity is difficult for him to do! He goes on to say that when people that are new to Insanity do the workout with him for the first timey they notice he’s out of breath too.

In October 2012, Shaun Thompson married his best friend and became Shaun Blokker. He made a choice to get rid of the negative influences in his life and go after his dream.

“People, you have no idea. I understand why you feel weak and why you might be not as confident as you want to be,” he says. “All you have to do is tell yourself you can do this, and I know that it’s possible.”

Listen to Shaun T talk about how he got his start on NPR’s Big Break:

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Lemon Basil Chicken

This summer I planted basil in a pot on my deck and have had fresh basil with all of its fragrance and flavor to use in dishes. This Lemon Basil Chicken recipe is quick and easy and is a good way to use fresh basil.  I served the chicken on a bed of Quinoa for a low-calorie, nutritious meal.

Fresh Basil

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Juice of two fresh lemons

3 or 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)

1 large bunch of fresh basic, chopped

Lemon Basil Chicken Raw

Directions:

Place the fresh chicken in a baking pan. Spread the minced garlic evenly over the chicken.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon evenly over the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil then place the chopped basil on top.

Cover and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serve on a bed of brown rice or quinoa.

I made enough to have lunch the next day. The best way for me eat healthy at work is to make extra servings of the healthy meals I make for dinner and then take them for lunch. I bought the microwave container that is perfect portion for lunch at TJ Maxx.

Lemon Basil Chicken

Using cucumbers from the garden I made Hungarian Cucumber Salad which was the perfect side dish.

Cucumber Salad w Paprkia

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Collage Video is Back With a New Look and More Features

Not only is Collage Video back, it’s been given a much needed face lift and has some added features I think you’ll like.

In April I wrote that Collage Video was going off-line. Without a going-out-of business sale yet! But it is back and running and it has been updated with a more dynamic and engaging design.

Collage Video

Collage Video is the number one site for reviewing and selling workout videos.  My favorite feature  – being able to preview clips of the videos before you buy – is still intact. I’ve been introduced to some of my favorite instructors and found the best workouts for me using the preview tool.

Instructors like Kelly Coffey Meyer:

Kelley Coffey Meyer

And workouts like After Burn with Cathe Friedrich:

Cathe Friedrick's After Burn

Plus, Collage Video now has three active blogs: Angie’s Corner, Ask Gilad and the Collage Video Blog.

Ask Gilad

BayView Entertainment

Collage Video is now a division of BayView Entertainment. BayView Entertainment, LLC, is America’s number one independent distributor of fitness, wellness, and special-interest DVD releases. BayView has forged relationships with the top names in fitness and special-interest, including Pranamaya and Yoga Journal Magazine as well as performers and producers as diverse as Kathy Smith, Gilad, Total Immersion, 8 Minute Abs, Scott Cole, Joyce Vedral and many others.

The Collage Video website operates via a new design and faster web host with improved security and technical capabilities.

In a recent press release BayView Entertainment said it will leverage its buying power and industry insight, as well as its own deep catalog of fitness and wellness titles, to re-energize the Collage website with an even greater selection of fitness.

No Excuses

There are still plenty of reasons to have a good selection of at-home workouts in your possession. The main one is they are excuse busters. It’s never too cold, too hot, too early or too late for a workout in your own home. They fit your schedule, and the best selection is at Collage.

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You Should Be Taking More Steps Every Day

You can’t out run a bad diet but you can out sit a good one.

You might be eating low calorie foods that are high in nutritional value, drinking plenty of water, avoiding sugary pop and drinking lite beer only on the weekends. But if you’re sitting at a desk or have another sedentary occupation or past time, the pounds will be hard to keep off. If you find your waist line is expanding in spite of your calorie counting it may be because you’re sitting too much. By being sedentary you’re also losing that precious muscle mass that keeps your metabolism at its peak.

Earlier this year, four experts for the Washington Post created a detailed list of everything that happens to the body when you sit for too long.  The expert panel consisted of James A. Levine, inventor of the treadmill desk and director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic, Charles E. Matthews, National Cancer Institute and author of several studies on sedentary behavior, Jay Dicharry, director of REP Biomechanics Lab in Bend, OR and author of Anatomy for Runners, and Tal Amassay, biochemist at Barry University’s Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Pedometer

Levine, Matthews, Dicharry and Amassay’s created list of health related issues that are the result of too much sitting.  The three big ones are:

  • Heart disease – muscles burn less fat and blood becomes sluggish in the veins when we sit. Prolonged sitting is also linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol which are also indicators of impending cardiovascular disease.
  • Overproductive pancreas – The pancreas produces insulin which carries energy to the cells.  If you’ve been sitting for awhile, the muscles don’t respond to the insulin so the pancreas has to produce more which can lead to diabetes. Scarier yet, according to the experts, a study was done in 2011 that showed a decline in insulin response after one day of prolonged sitting.
  • Colon cancer – The reasons why colon cancer is more prevalent among sitters isn’t proven but it is believed to be related to the elevated levels of insulin that encourages cell growth.

Other reasons to move more during the day is to prevent mushy abs, tight hips, soft bones and a foggy brain. A sore neck and shoulders and back problems are also the by-products of immobility.

There’s More

You don’t need more bad new, but even if you get a healthy does of structured exercise every week it doesn’t undo the health risks of sitting. One study shows that the negative effect of six hours of sitting is similar in magnitude to the benefit of one hour of exercise. That doesn’t mean that if you sit for eight or nine hours a day you have to exercise for three hours to make up for it. That would be impossible to do. What the researchers suggest is to break up the sitting with short doses of movement.

Taking short walks throughout the day, walking in place while you’re on the phone, and getting on the clothes rack treadmill while you’re watching T.V. are some simple ways to get more walking in. To get to the goal of 10,000 steps a day, you’ll probably need to get creative and do something extra. If you need some tips, click here.

Why This Is Important For You

A study published in the American Medical Journal shows that inactivity in American men and women continues to rise.  Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center report that in 1988, 19 percent of women were inactive. By 2010, that number had jumped to 52 percent. For men the rate nearly quadrupled, going from 11 to 43 percent in the same period of time.

The study notes that what didn’t change is the number of calories people consumed.  More calories and less activity is the formula for obesity.

I could have turned this into a post about 50 ways to put more steps in your day but I think you all know what you should do: park in the space farthest away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk on your breaks at work. Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things.

Wear A Pedomoter

Wearing a pedometer will help you build the habit of reaching a walking goal. If you don’t wear a pedometer you don’t have any idea how many steps you’re getting in on an average day. It might be 2,000. That isn’t enough.

Try wearing a pedometer and set a goal to get to 10,000 steps a day every day for a week and find out what you have to do to get to the goal. If you’re a cube dweller it will be an eye-opener. It will help you reach your weight loss goals and might even save your life.

Pedometer 10,000

What do you do to put more steps in your day?

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Ten Super Foods You Should Be Eating Every Week

As humans we are forever evolving, or if we’re not, we should be. We should be trying new foods and finding which ones are the most important to our individual life and eating style.

Over the years I’ve posted my list of superfoods and realize it’s time for an update. I’ve grown to depend on some foods more than others to keep me nourished, happy and healthy.  Below is a list of foods I eat every week, some every day.

Super Foods

1.   Almonds – Almonds are a prime source of protein and healthy oil. They have been found to reduce LDL cholesterol, and, when eaten with a meal, lower blood sugar.  Almonds are high in vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants.  The best thing about almonds is that they are filling. I eat a few each morning with breakfast and it helps me stay full until lunch. You can add almonds to salads, vegetable dishes, yogurt and baked goods.

2.   Olive Oil – Olive oil is a key part of the Mediterranean Diet and is most known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and ability to reduce total blood cholesterol.  It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of some cancers. Keep in mind when cooking with olive oil that it has a low smoke point so you don’t want to get it too hot or it will lose some of its health benefits. Drizzle olive oil on breads, salads and garden vegetables.

3.   Blueberries – Blueberries are also famous for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  These berries are also believed to improve cognitive benefits and memory.  They may even slow down cognitive problems that are associated with aging. Blueberries are best when fresh but can also be frozen. They are abundant in vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber and manganese.

4.   Bananas – There isn’t anything that compares with bananas when it comes to post-workout recovery.  They have more potassium than sports drinks plus they are a good source of vitamins B6 and C.  Despite their sugar content, bananas are low on the glycemic index due to the amount of fiber and pectins they contain. Bananas can be added to smoothies, eaten with peanut butter or on their own.

Banana Smoothie

5.   Romaine Lettuce – Leafy, crunchy romaine lettuce is my favorite for salads.  It is high in vitamins K, A, C and B1.  Plus, it has fiber and folic acid that’s not found in a lot of other foods.  The best thing about romaine lettuce is its high nutritional value combined with being very low in calories.

6.   Coffee – Okay, it’s not actually a food but it has super powers. The proven benefits of coffee are that it helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver cancer.  It also is known to improve cognitive function and mood and will jump start a workout.  It comes in at zero calories when consumed without any creamers or sugar.

7.   Peppers – Colorful bell peppers are a staple on my grocery list. I add them to pasta dishes, use them as a topping for pizza, and eat them as a snack with hummus. Peppers have more vitamin C than oranges, and are high in antioxidants. We grow mini sweet peppers in pots on the patio in the summer and by fall we have a harvest of beautiful peppers to eat.

Sweet Mini Peppers are an excellent replacement for chips and other crunchy snacks.

Sweet Mini Peppers are an excellent replacement for chips and other crunchy snacks.

8.   Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have an abundance of antioxidants.  They also provide calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. Research has shown that eating chia can lead to improvement in certain health conditions and has long been known as runner’s food. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds and it came them sustained energy.  The seeds can be added to oatmeal, yogurt, breads, and sauces.

9. Garlic – The sulfur component of garlic is, in part, what makes it a super food.  Sulfur is an important component for good health and helps keep blood pressure under control.  Some people may be deficient in sulfur so a daily dose of garlic is a good way to replenish your supply. The best way to buy garlic is fresh and whole. You can use a garlic press or a knife to chop it before adding it to soups, salads, meats and main dishes.

Garlic

10. Black Beans -Black beans are rich in fiber and protein which support the regulation of blood sugar. The beans are also a good supply of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants and give support to the digestive tract. They are low in calories and high in protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways including black bean brownies.

I encourage everyone to experiment to find the foods that work for them.  A super food is a whole food that is high in nutrition, has the ability to improve your health when eaten on a regular basis. Most important, they must be foods that you enjoy eating.

What foods are on your super food list?

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Is Weight Gain After Weight Loss Inevitable?

Most people that lose weight gain some or even all of it back. If you’ve worked hard to get to your goal weight is it inevitable that you’ll experience a regain?

That’s a hard question and unfortunately research hasn’t been able to provide us with an absolute answer. There is even some confusion as to whether weight regain is due to a shift in metabolism and hormones or if people simply drift back into the old habits that made them overweight in the first place.

It’s probably a combination of the body’s natural tendency to want to return to its ‘normal’ weight and the dieter returning to their before-weight-loss eating patterns. Referred to as yo-yo dieting, the weight losses and gains can take a toll on a person’s physical and emotional well being.

Diet 2

 First, let’s take a look at what science is able to tell us.

Research Provides Some Insight

There are a number of studies that show that dieting is associated with accelerated weight gain and an increased risk of becoming overweight. Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, wrote an article, Warning: Dieting Increases Your Risk of Gaining MORE Weight, for Intuitive Eating Disorders.com.  Tribole’s article discusses a concept known as dieting-induced weight-gain that scientists believe is contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Dieting-induced weight-gain suggests that, independent of genetics, dieting prompts weight gain. And, a cycle of weight-loss, followed by weight-gain, followed by another round of weight-loss pushes the baseline weight higher than the original weight.

The article cites several studies that show that dieting teenagers have twice the risk of becoming overweight. It also says the risk of binge eating increases with dieting and up to two-thirds of people that lose weight regain even more than they lost.

Some researchers believe the predisposition to regain lost weight is caused by nerves in the stomach that become damaged [in obese people] so that they no longer signal the brain to tell it when the person is full. One study out of the University of Adelaid in Southern Australia looked specifically at the effects of a high fat diet on the stomach’s ability to send fullness cues to the brain.

This study reported that even when people begin eating a healthier diet the signaling did not improve, nor did it improve with weight loss. What this means is that an individual who has lost a significant amount of weight would still not realize that they were full in time to prevent overeating.

Dieting Is A Slippery Slope

Trying to determine why people that lose weight will, more than likely, gain it back is a challenge. Hormones, the hunger control mechanism, and resetting of the metabolic rate may all be factors however the primary reason for regain is probably more about behavior change than people would like to admit.

When you lose weight your body mass decreases which means you require fewer calories than you did when you were at your heavier weight. Through the process of dieting you suffer deprivation and your cravings for a Dilly Bar or cheesy fries go unfulfilled.

Once you lose the weight you feel great. You’re getting compliments from your friends and co-workers, and you’re buying fun clothes in a smaller size. But slowly, as you begin to get used to the new you, the old habits start to slip back in. At first it’s only for special occasions, but it doesn’t take long before you’re eating more every day than you were when you on the diet.

You’re not consuming quite as many calories as you were when you were pre-diet, so it still feels like you’re giving up something. You’re still depriving yourself. A little. But you’re eating more than your body needs to maintain the weight you’re at now.

Plus because of the lower metabolic rate and suppressed satiation response you could be taking in quite a few more calories than you need.  You’re also disconnected from when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. You second guess every morsel.

What’s The Answer?

Tribole believes the answer lies in attunement with your mind and body rather than counting calories or Weight Watchers points. She calls this process Intuitive Eating which gives you permission to eat when hungry, eat for physical rather than emotional reasons, and rely on internal hunger cues to help you determine when and how much to eat.

Intuitive Eating doesn’t sound like the quick and easy fix that dieting is but if you embrace it you will begin to develop a healthy relationship with food.  To learn more about this concept check out the web site that has on-line support group at Intuitive Eating.org.

Most people determine how much weight they want to lose and a date that they want to lose it by. Throughout that time frame they are doing things in a dramatically different way. They eat less, exercise more, avoid sugary, fatty foods, and seek out motivation from friends, co-workers and the fitness instructor at the local Y.

These are things that should be done throughout our lifetime. Being at a healthy weight should be a life goal rather than a six week or six month battle with the scale.

What’s your strategy to maintain a healthy weight?

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Five Weight Loss and Exercise Excuse Busters Just For You

Human beings are really good at coming up with creative excuses. When you’re in my line of work you hear a lot of them. Half of them are about not reaching a weight loss goal.  And the other half are about not being able to get motivated to work out.

Here are six of the most common excuses I hear regarding exercise and weight loss along with a way to bust that excuse so it goes away for good!

Excuses

Flickr photo by Krissy Venosdale

Icky Weather – I can’t work out today because it’s too hot or too cold, it’s raining, snowing foggy, or muggy. Unless you live someplace like San Diego, CA the weather is rarely just right which means if you use the weather as your excuse to miss workouts you’ll never get them done. If the weather does affect your motivation you’ll need to get acquainted with doing workouts from home and there are plenty of options.

Since Exercise TV stopped programming three years ago, the best at-home workout solution is Be Fit. At Be Fit there are tons of quality workouts in a variety of formats and lengths to choose from so you’ll never get bored. The best part? Be Fit is free!

Too Busy – I don’t have the time. This is the mother of all excuses.  It is the one used most often by most people. The folks over at Skinnyms.com say you only need two minutes a day to successfully lose weight. No, they’re not talking about the new ten minute workout that only takes two minutes. They’re explaining how important it is to have a food journal and how taking two minutes a day to write down the foods that you eat can help you lose weight. In the Skinnyms article, 2 Minutes a Day to Weight Loss Success there are also some good low-cal recipes to get you started.

No Results –Maybe you’re demotivated because you think you’re doing everything right but you can’t get the results that you hope for. It may be that you’re doing too much cardio.  Overdoing it on the cardio without a couple of days of strength training will burn up your muscle which will lower your metabolic rate making it harder to lose weight. Plus you’ll never get any closer to getting the toned body you’re coveting. Weight Loss and Training.com has a 30 Minute Workout to Get Total Body Toned.  If you do this workout at home you’ll need a barbell. If you don’t have one you could substitute dumbbells or a weighted bar. Or, you could do it in the gym before you head down to spin class.

Funky – You’ve got that general feeling of malaise going. Nothing’s really wrong, you’re just in a funk and can’t get moving. A steady dose of motivation is what you need. Fitness Motivation for Ordinary People has a Facebook page that will get your spirits up and increase your mojo without making you feel bad about yourself.  Facebook is the gift that keeps on giving so once you ‘like’ the page you’ll get Ordinar People’s motivational stuff in your news feed.

Hangry – Whenever you try to lose weight you find you’re hungry all the time and that makes you angry. You’re hangry! You’ve probably seen tips for keeping that hunger under control, but that can be easier said than done. Lifetime Weight Loss has some tips that can really help including practicing mindfulness which is always one of my favorites. Check out What To Do When You’re Still Hungry for some strategies you may not have thought of.

Do you have an excuse that you need busted?

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Senate Tells Dr. Oz to Stop Pushing Bogus Weight Loss Miracles

The Federal Trade Commission has an issue with the way Dr. Mermet Oz promotes quick fix dietary supplements on his show and they’ve told him he needs to stop.

Finally.

Dr. Oz is famous for baseless claims that tell people weight loss products like green coffee bean extract and carcinia gambogia is a fast, easy way to lose weight. On his television show and web site, Dr. Oz. promises that people will see dramatic results from using these products. He promises they will melt fat and double – maybe even triple – their weight loss. To date there is no proof that these products have any impact on weight loss.

Recently Dr. Oz was brought in front of the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Committee to answer questions about his endorsement of these products.

Committee Chairwoman Senator Claire McCaskill asked Dr. Oz why he promotes these products as weight loss ‘miracles’ even though there is no evidence to support these statements. Dr. Oz, in his own defense, said that the feels it is his role to be a cheerleader for the audience when they think they don’t have hope.

Dr. Oz 2

Dr. Oz defends his promotion of weight loss miracles in front of the Senate sub-committee.

“I have things I think work for people. I want them to try them so that they feel better, so that they can do the things we talk about every day on the show [like diet and exercise],” Oz said.

“When I can’t us language that is flowery, that is exulting, I feel like I’ve been disenfranchised,” he added.

Weight Loss Gimmicks Do More Harm Than Good

But Paul Fidalgo, a spokesperson for the Center for Inquiry wasn’t buying it. He told the doctor that “too often celebrity gurus lure consumers into wasting their money and pinning their hopes on pseudoscientific concoctions that are at best useless, and at worst dangerous.”

Fidalgo is right. Dr. Oz appears to want what’s best for his audience but he’s doing them a huge disservice by gaining their trust and then convincing them to spend money on gimmicks that don’t work. He’s been running this scam for years and it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to give it up just yet.

McCaskill told Dr. Oz that they had not called him to the hearing so they could “beat up on [him]” but rather to ask him to be part of the solution. Dr. Oz responded that he has toned down his language but doesn’t plan to stop promoting the weight loss products to the public. “I do personally believe in the items that I talk about,” he said.

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True . . . .

The Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center when it comes to weight loss claims there are seven statements that tip you off that if it sounds too good to be true it is:

- Causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.
- Causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats.
- Causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product.
- Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.
- Safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.
- Causes substantial weight loss for all users.
- Causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

I would add three more to this list. Any product or program that will ‘torch calories’, ‘melt fat’, or ‘guarantee dramatic weight loss’ is a gimmick. These key words equal scam.

It’s impossible to second guess what Dr. Oz’s intentions are.  He may have his audience at heart. He may get a kick-back from the products that sell as a result of his show and web site.  He might just want to be a cheerleader for people that are struggling to lose weight.

But it’s good that the Senate committee and FTC have reined him in so that people who are wondering if they should buy a Dr. Oz’s miracle now know the answer to that question is a definite No!

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Do You Really Know How Many Calories You Burned In That Work Out?

Most of the nifty fitness trackers let you to add the calories that you burn during workouts back into your daily calorie allotment which can lead to weight loss sabotage. Unless you know what your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is you can’t know how many calories you’re burning at rest or at play.

Getting an accurate  BMR measurement isn’t easy. To accurately calculate your BMR you will need to undergo an indirect calorimetry test which means you’re hooked up to a machine that measures the volume of oxygen consumption and the volume of carbon dioxide output.  The test is done in a lab or clinic where they have the equipment to properly administer the test.

Since it’s not possible for most people to get their BMR measured in this way they do the next best thing.  They use an on-line calculator that has them enter height, weight, age, gender and activity level. The web page then calculates your BMR and provides you with the number of daily calories you need to consume.

BMR 2

On-line BMR calculations are a guesstimate at best. In fact, The American Council on Exercise says these calculators can be off by as many as 1,000 calories!

Most People Overestimate Calories Burned During A Work Out

Where people get into trouble with calculating calories burned during exercise is it’s difficult to properly estimate activity level. Most of us think we’re working harder than we actually are which means we think we’ve burned more calories than we have. This was the focus of a study being done by a team of researchers at the University of Ottawa.

At the U of O, researchers had a small group of participants take a brisk walk on a treadmill until they were told to stop. They were then led to a buffet table where they were instructed to consume foods that would equal the calories they spent in their workout. Not surprisingly, the group consumed two to three times more calories than they had burned on the treadmill.

A follow-up study in the UK had participants exercise at 60 to 90 percent of their V02 max.  They maintained that intensity until they had burned 450 calories or a treadmill. As in the Ottawa study they were then led to a buffet and were told to match the number of calories that they ate to the amount they burned on the treadmill.

The results were similar to the first group however this group underestimated the number of calories they burned. That did not stop them from overeating. They overate to the same extent as the people in the Ottawa study did.

What This Means For You

I’m not anti Fitbit, Jawbone or MyFitnessPal. I think they are all excellent ways to track calories and activity and keep you motivated.  But I worry that too many people are relying on these devices and apps to accurately tell them how many calories they’ve burned doing a workout. Then they think it’s okay to put those calories – or more according to the studies – back in to make up for the loss.

Fitbit calories burned

Flickr photo by Nagu Tran

Your Fitbit cannot possibly know how many calories you’ve burned on a four mile run.  It can tell you how much the average person of your height, weight and gender might burn. But it can’t tell you how many you’ve spent.

Go ahead and track your calorie intake and do your daily workouts but don’t add back the calories you’ve burned working out. Let those goes. Think of it as a bonus then see if you have more success reaching your weight loss goal.

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Two Tips To Help With Motivation And An Exercise For A Deserted Island

Everyone is always searching for the secret sauce for exercise motivation. Even if you’ve found a workout that you love, there are days when you don’t want to do it.  Days can turn into weeks, which turn into months and before long you can’t remember the last time you went to the gym or did your before-work Tabata training.

You probably think that staying motivated has something to do with a magical internal force that you blame yourself for not being able to control. But new studies show that there are some specific practices that will help you reach your goals.

Below are a couple of tips to help you get moving when you know you should but can’t.  They might not be the quick fix strategies like drink this potion twice a day and don’t eat these three foods that you’re looking for. However, they do provide insight into some long term changes that you can make that will work if you give them a try.

As an added bonus, I threw in some exercise advice from Bob Harper should you ever find yourself on a deserted island.

Lazy Cat

I know I should try and catch that mouse, but laying here feels so good.

Mindfulness Meditation

Learning to live in the moment can have a huge impact on your productivity, weight and health. Now it seems that mindfulness meditation is a topic that is being studied in sports medicine. According to Gregory Cherok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine, research shows that mindfulness meditation improves attention and sharpens impulse control.

But, the simple skill of living in the present isn’t as easy to acquire as it sounds. Our human brains have a tendency to skip around from past, to present to future throughout the day. This is a distraction that takes us away from what is happening in the here and now.

Chertok says that mindfulness training is a critical skill in sports. Performance occurs in present time and focusing on past failures leads to anxiety and muscle tension. He believes that mediation can alleviate exercise boredom, one of the main reasons people have trouble sticking with an exercise program.  Chertok also suggests that people use one of the many meditation apps that are available

Tip – Shut out the noise and distractions for a few minutes each day and focus solely on your goals. Mindfulness meditation will keep you centered and provide relief for the stress that goes with trying to find the time to do the things that are most important to you.

If you want to find an app to help you get started with the practice of mindfulness meditation, check out Simply Being Guided Meditation or Meditation Helper at iTunes or the Google play store.

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

It seems that night owls struggle with exercise motivation more than their early-to-bed peers do.

A new study recently published in the journal Sleep, suggests that people that come alive when the sun goes down have difficulty finding the time or the motivation to exercise.

The study measured the habits of 123 healthy adults that slept for an average of six and a half hours a night. Over the course of a week each participant’s sleep was monitored with a wrist actigraphy and a sleep diary.

One of the lead researchers of the project, Dr. Kelly Glazer Baron, an associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Northwestern University in Chicago, said that the average exercise was 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

“This was a highly active sample averaging 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week,” Baron said. “Even among those who were able to exercise, waking up late and being an evening person made it more difficult.”

Baron says that the study shows that circadian rhythms need to be considered when recommending exercise programs and interventions. “Sleep timing should be taken into account when discussing exercise participation,” she added. “We could expect that sleep timing would play even a larger role in a population that had more difficulty exercising.”

Tip – If you’re a night owl and have a hard time adhering to an exercise routine, this news should be key in helping you identify and overcome motivational barriers that you may not have been aware of.  Adjusting your sleep patterns so that you get to bed earlier and up earlier may be the first step towards better exercise adherence.

The Deserted Island Exercise

Since we’re on the topic of exercise motivation I saw this today and had to share. Bob Harper, trainer on NBC’s Biggest Loser, says that the Burpee – hated by many and loved by a rare few – is the best exercise for, well, for anything!

The burpee that you learned to despise many years ago in grade school has not only made a comeback, it has now been endorsed by Bob Harper as being the one fitness move to take with you to a deserted island.  That’s kind of a funny analogy but I get what he’s saying. You can do a burpee anywhere without any equipment.

Burpees strengthen both the upper and lower body, enhance mobility and balance, and kick up your metabolism. “It does it all,” Harper says. “You will get the workout of your life.”

If you’re motivated to exercise, and specifically, motivated to do burpees, here’s a quick how-to video for you.

Don’t be discouraged if you start out only being able to do one or two.  Keep adding a couple of burpees to your workout and eventually you’ll be able to do a full Tabata workout using just the burpee.

A Tabata workout is 20 seconds of movement followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight cycles. In other words, do as many burpees as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10, then start again.

Interested in a 30 Day Burpee Challenge? Click here.

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