My Running Success Story: From 5K to 10K to 15K to Half Marathon

When I hear people say that they can’t run I tell them Yes. You. Can. At one time I too said that I wasn’t a runner. Then I launched a Couch to 5K program as a workplace wellness program and ran my first 5K.  From there I worked my way up from a 5K to 10K to 15K and finally a half marathon.

Each time you complete an event you set yourself up mentally to achieve the next distance. Setting a goal to run a half or full marathon without any running experience might be daunting. But breaking those long distances down into smaller achievements keeps you engaged in your training where you develop both the cardiovascular and muscular endurance necessary for longer runs.

Cool Running’s Couch to 5K program is a good place to start if you’ve got the desire to run but you’re not sure if you’re ready. It’s the program that turned my dream of running into a reality. It can do the same for you.

5K at Crystal Lake Park, Urbana, IL -

This run took place on a beautiful fall day and was for women only. Proceeds went to organizations in the community that proceed services to women in need. Below is a picture of me with my co-workers. It was our first 5K and we rocked it!

5K

15K – Hot Chocolate Race  in Chicago, IL -

Here’s the crew on the morning of the race on Lake Michigan in Chicago. It was a cold morning but we warmed up once we got moving. The reward for running a 15K on a cold morning in November?  Chocolate!

15 K Hot Chocolate

Illinois Half Marathon

This race is practically in my backyard. Every year we get up early and travel to the race and don’t have the expense of a hotel room. They have a great after-party for runners and volunteers. Here we are at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium with our medals.

Illinois Half

Illinois Half Marathon – Post Race Hydration

Ah yes. If you’ve heard that runners like to imbibe a little after they run, it’s true. We do. Of course we always drink responsibly.

Post Half Celebration

The Shoreline Classic 15K – Decatur, IL

This was my first year to do the Shoreline Classic in Decatur, Il. It was an absolutely perfect fall day and the race course was full of rolling hills. The hills weren’t the kind that suck the life out of you, but rather there was a nice steady stream of one hill after another that keeps the running both challenging and interesting. This year was the Shoreline’s 25th anniversary. We (my daughter and I) got medals, a really cool long sleeved shirt and the headbands.

Shoreline Classic 15 K

Trail Running

To stay in shape between big events I teach fitness classes and  compete in train runs throughout the year. The distance is usually between seven and eight miles but the course can be tricky. On these runs there are creeks to navigate, lots of mud, tree roots covered by leaves and hills (the kind of that suck the air out of you) and even an occasional snake.

Trail Runs

Lake Mingo Run

 Ready. Set. Go!

Get ready to start your running career by picking out a 5K near you, lace up your running shoes, and get outside. Here’s a link to the program that helps thousands of people turn their dream of running into reality: Ready To Launch Your Running Career?  Here’s The Method That Works. 

You might also like this article on the benefits of a structured running program: Five Ways You Can Benefit From A Structured Running Program.

Today’s the Day. Get out there!

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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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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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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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Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone

“Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort.” — Peter McWilliams
 

Human beings are the only species that deliberately sabotage their own best efforts to improve their life. We have the intellect to know that the behaviors we’re clinging to are holding us back from reaching our goals yet often times we can’t change.

You know that you need to lose weight and cut back on sugar yet you continue to order a large sweet tea at McDonald’s on your way to work each day.

You’ve promised yourself that you’ll get up and take a 20 minute walk before you start your day but when the alarm goes off you hit the snooze until it’s too late to go.

You’ve made a delicious salad and put it in the fridge at work, but when co-workers say they’re going to Pizza By The Pound for lunch you easily dismiss the salad and join them.

Why?

Comfort Zone

Flickr photo by Steve Heath

Is it because we are a bunch of pampered, lazy sloths that we can’t get motivated or tolerate any discomfort that might come from the process of changing the bad habits we’ve developed?

I don’t think so.

I’m not a psychologist. I’m a wellness coach and program administrator. If you know a psychologist, go ahead and ask them what they think.  Their answer might be different from mine.

I think people find it very hard to change their behaviors because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. And most of, fear of being uncomfortable, maybe even miserable, during the process.

I don’t think that, as a species, we’re a bunch of lazy sloths.  I do think that most of us like to be comfortable. We like routine. We avoid change. We are content with the status quo. We make excuses, procrastinate, and avoid.

As soon as you set a goal and realize what action steps you’re going to have to take to achieve it, the repetitive self-defeating thoughts inhabit your brain. It’s too hot or too cold.  You’re too tired. You don’t have enough time. You never see the results fast enough. You need a break. You’re burnt out. It doesn’t matter anyway. What difference does it make?

Get Comfortable With Discomfort

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” — Brian Tracy
 

What is it that you want to do but know that in order to achieve it you’re going to have to suffer a little?

Maybe you’d like to try the HiiT class at the Y but you’re afraid you’ll feel funny, look clumsy, or won’t be able to keep up. Being the new person in an exercise class is very uncomfortable.

Three months ago you signed up to run a 10K that’s now two weeks away. You haven’t kept up with the training program. You can probably get through the race but it won’t be as easy as you’d like. You’re going to suffer a little.

You just came home from your annual physical and the doctor pointed out that you’ve gained 10 pounds since she saw you last year. You know you need to lose weight but there are so many other things going on right now. You don’t have time for work on your diet and exercise. You need a magic wand to make this happen.

This behavior change stuff is hard work. There’s no easy way for it to happen. You have to do the work and you’re going to have to sacrifice and suffer. A little.

But on the other side of that discomfort, awkwardness, and misery is something special.  There’s a feeling of achievement and reward that’s waiting for you that is greater than all of those things that held you back. If you’re feeling too cushy, too comfortable, too settled into your routine it probably means you’re not reaching, growing, or moving towards your goals. It’s time for you to get uncomfortable.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

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Exercise Tip Of The Week: Work Out With High Achievers.

“Don’t join an easy crowd. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high.” – Jim Rohn

When I was out of town last weekend I visited a Cross Fit gym and got to see for myself what all of the fuss is about.  My trainer, Kelly, was a little powerhouse who reminded me of a blonde Jillian Michaels.  She was overtly serious about Cross Fit and her role as a trainer. She was determined that we were going to work as hard as we could while maintaining perfect form.

When she popped up against the wall in handstand position and demonstrated the wall stand push-ups that were part of the WOD that we would be doing I was a little out of my comfort zone.  But that’s okay. I like that. I can’t do a wall stand push-up, but Kelly can. And if she can do them, why wouldn’t I be able to if I worked at it?

Who Do You Hang With?

Do you hang out with people you’re comfortable with or people who push the limits?

Do you hang with high achievers?

Do you hang with high achievers?

Self-help guru Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true (and I wouldn’t be putting it in this article if I didn’t believe it was) you need to spend most of your time with people that are doing things that you aspire to achieve.  For me that would be people like wall stand push-up Kelly.

High fitness achievers are easy to find. You’ll find them at the Cross Fit gym and in the front row of the HIIT class at the local Y. They are the ones pushing themselves to do more today than they did yesterday. High achievers seek out coaches and trainers that will help them improve their skills and, at the same time, are mentoring people that look to them for help.

At work they hang out with the people that walk on their lunch hour and that don’t give in to eating a donut just because they’re a free leftover from a morning meeting. They post workout pictures and positive quotes on social media and get followers that want to get the residual effects of their accomplishments.

Be The Change

Jonathan Mead, creator of Paid To Exist says, “If you surround yourself with world-class athletes, it will be hard for you to not become one. If you go on a retreat where the only option is to create, it will be hard for you to not produce something groundbreaking. If you wake up with a community of doers, leaders, and world-changers, it will be incredibly difficult for you to not embrace your own greatness.”

But it’s not just about tightening up your circle so that the five people you spend the most time with motivate you to do more. It’s about being an inspiration to people that need your influence and support.

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” –Kobe Bryant

Are you a member of the high achievers club?

If you liked this article you might also enjoy: The Eight Habits of Ultra-Fit People.

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Fitness Tip Of The Week: Increase Upper Body Strength With This One Move

Most people don’t use the muscles in their arms, chest and back nearly as much as they should.

If you go for a brisk walk or a quick run that’s great for your heart and will help keep the legs strong, but these common workouts only use the muscle groups in one half of your body.

Unless you’re doing specific strength exercises to prevent muscle loss, the upper body gets weak.  The muscles begin to atrophy and day-to-day activities become more of a challenge.  Eventually you’ll find that you look more frail and aren’t able to stand up as straight as you’d like.  This is the result of both muscle and bone loss.

Push-Up

Basic Push-Up (Flickr photo by mewall82)

You can turn that upper body muscle and bone loss around with one simple exercise. The push-up. When you do a push-up you’re working your shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps, and core.

How To Do A Basic Push-Up 

There are a number of ways to execute a push-up (we’ll talk more about that in a minute) but the same, basic rules apply to all of them.

1. Get down on the floor on your hands and toes. Position the arms so that they are wider than your shoulders.

2.  Slowly lower your upper body down to the floor. Make sure you keep your back flat and your core muscles tight. It’s important that the body stays in a straight line throughout the exercise.  If you’re able to check out your form in a mirror, that’s a good way to make sure you’re doing it right.

3.  Once your nose is almost down to the floor, slowly push back up to starting position.

4.  Try to be aware of your breathing so that you’re inhaling on the way down to the floor, and exhaling on the way up.

Push-Up Tips

If you haven’t done push-ups for a while just one will get you started.  Rest and then do one more.  Do as many as you can each day and don’t get discouraged if you can’t do many at one time.

You get the same benefits if you break up your sets and do them at different times of the day. For example, rather than trying to do 20 push-ups at a time, do 10 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon.  Make it a goal to increase the number of push-ups that you do each week.

As you progress you can add some variety to your push-ups by placing your hands in a staggered position on the floor, decrease or increase the distance between your hands, or put your feet on a box or bench that is slight higher than your hands for a decline push-up (pictured below).

Decline Push Up

Decline push up (flickr photo by shawnbrowntraining)

At first push-ups might seem hard  but in no time your upper body strength will increase and you’ll be able to handle the workload without resting.

The increase in muscle mass that you’ll gain from doing push-ups and squats every day is crucial to maintaining precious muscle and bone mass and will help keep those extra pounds away.  Plus adding muscle to your frame will improve your body composition so you’ll look and feel better.

Still Need Convincing?

New research from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that people that have more muscle mass live longer. One of the doctors associated with the project said that instead of worrying about weight or body mass index we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.

What’s your favorite upper body strengthening exercise?

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Fitness Tip Of The Week: 100 Squats A Day. Everyday.

You can get big results from doing 100 Squats A Day. Everyday.

Sometimes just doing one simple thing can make a big difference.  It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking that if you’ don’t have at least 30 minutes to work out you might as well forget it.

No true.

A lot of days I’m busy too but I’ve decided that I am going to add 100 squats a day to whatever it is I’m already doing.

There are a lot of reasons to add 100 squats a day.  The main one is to look better in jeans and a swim suit. Bikini season will be here before you know and, I don’t know about you, but my body isn’t ready.

Plus, doing 100 squats a day is easy.  It only takes a few minutes, you don’t need any special equipment or a gym membership.  You can do them in your bathroom while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, in the evening while you’re preparing dinner, or in front of the TV at night.

It doesn’t matter where or when.  Just get them done!

There are many ways to squat but to get results the basic squat will do:

Squat

Add some weights to your squats (as in dumbbells, a weighted bar or medicine ball):

Squats with weight

Or do a plyo squat by adding a jump at the end:

 

Plyo squat

However you decide to do your squats, make sure that you’re in good form. You want your hips to drop behind your knees and over your heels.  Be careful not to push your weight out over your knees. The best way to make sure you’re doing the perfect squat is to pretend you’re sitting down in a chair that someone is pulling away from you.  You have to stick your booty way to the back to reach it.

The baby in this picture (from Pinterest) has the 411 on squats. (You don’t have to go quite that low though.):

Baby Squatting

Within 10 days you’ll start to see the results of your squats. Your hips and thighs will begin to feel stronger and leaner.  Your winter body will be closer to being bikini ready.

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Strength Training: The Secret to Looking Younger and Better

Walking, running, swimming, biking, or getting on the elliptical for 30 minutes are the most popular forms of exercise and typically what people turn to when they want to lose weight.

If this is how you spend your time at the gym or outdoors, the heart health benefits are undeniable. But, unless you’re pushing around some weights a couple of times a week, you’re missing out on one of the most important components of physical fitness. The one that will make you look younger and better.

Weights

Save Your Muscles

As you age you lose muscle. People that are inactive lose about three to five percent of their muscle mass per decade after the age of 30. That means, by the time you’re 50 you will have lost up to 15 percent. Physically active people also experience age-related muscle loss although not quite as drastically.

The loss of muscle tissue can generate a variety of inflictions including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, weight gain, loss of balance and decreased energy. It is the primary reason why people begin to look frail and weak as they age and many take on a stooped appearance.

Adding a couple of strength training workouts to your cardio routine a couple of times a week can turn these conditions around or prevent them from occurring in the first place. Strength training is the key to looking and feeling younger than your age.

You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to do some basic exercises that will help you save your muscles.  I’ve picked seven exercises that target the larger muscle groups so you get the best results for your time spent.

If you have time left over and want to work on biceps, triceps and calves – what I call vanity muscles – go for it. But focus first on working the larger muscle groups to prevent overall muscle loss and stimulate muscle gain.

1. Chest Press – Lie on your back on a bench or exercise ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly press your hands to the ceiling and then back down so that the elbows drop slightly below the ball.  Repeat 12 times. Do two sets.

Chest Press

2.  Upper Back or Rear Deltoid Fly – Still holding the weights, stand and bend over so your hands are down by your knees. Lift your arms out to the side as though you’re getting ready to take off and fly.  Release slowly to starting position. Focus on pulling the shoulder blades together in the back.

Rear Deltoid Fly

3.  Clean and Press – This is a multi-purpose exercise.  It works the large muscle groups in the legs as well as shoulders. Holding the dumbbells down by your sides, squat down slowly. As you come up, push weights overhead to a shoulder press.  Release the weights back down and repeat.

Clean and press

4.  Dead Lift – This exercise works the hamstrings.  Start by holding a weight, weighted ball or kettle bell in front.  Slowly bend over lowering the weight down to the floor.  Try to keep your knees straight as you bend over. Slowly come back up to starting position.

Dead Lift

 

5.  Side Leg Raise – Having strong abductors (outer thighs) will help you maintain balance. In a standing position or laying on your side on the floor, slowly lift one leg away from the body and back in 12 times.  Repeat on the other leg. Using a resistance tube will make this exercise more challenging.

Side Leg Raise

6.  Push-Ups – On your knees or with toes on the floor, place hands under your shoulders and lower your chest down to the floor. Come back to starting position and repeat.

Push Up

7.  Plank – With your elbows and toes on the floor, tighten your tummy and hold your body in a straight line for 10 seconds.  Work up to holding the position for 30 seconds and eventually a minute.

Elbow Plank

There are numerous variations to these moves, but if you want to get started with some basic exercises that don’t take a lot of time or equipment these should do the trick.

Try to do two sets of 12 of each exercise two to three times a week.  When they start to feel easy to you keep challenging yourself by increasing the weight or adding a weight bar or other equipment such as kettle bells. You should notice some noticeable changes within three to four weeks.

Strength training will save your muscle and your bones. Did I mention that these basic strength training exercises will make you look better?

(Pics are from Pinterest. Click on the picture to see the source.)

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