Health and Fitness
Fitness: Facts & Fiction
Every month we feature a new article on this page that discusses health & fitness news and related stories. These past articles are written by Kelly O'Brien, a Certified Personal Trainer. These articles cover topics about physical fitness, exercise, health studies, training techniques, and overall health related topics.
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We hope that you enjoy reading these articles and gain useful information from them to help keep you on the road to physical fitness.
Carb Cycling For Fat Loss
Carbohydrates are used as energy by the body; they fuel our workouts, and provide ample fuel over the course of any day. Learn what carb cycling is and try a cycle or two to see how it works for you
Carbohydrates are used as energy by the body; they fuel our workouts, as well as providing ample fuel to be used throughout the course of the day. Ingesting carbs also replenishes our glucose and glycogen stores to prevent fatigue.
Carb cycling allows you to still eat carbs from clean sources, without adding body fat, and cycling enables you to better utilize fat for burning as fuel, as opposed to burning carbs and muscle tissue for fuel.
Depending on how you time your carb intake can cause carbs to be stored as fat. We have all tried the “low carb” diet. It is not enjoyable for very long. Carbohydrates can make dieting, and eating in general, a lot easier and more pleasurable... as long as the carbs are from the proper sources.
Carbohydrates eaten in excess, or eaten at the wrong times, can help to add adipose tissue to the body, but they are not a bad thing if incorporated into a diet properly. Eat the majority of your carbs early in the day and at the post-workout meal, tapering off on them as the day goes on.
Try not to eat carbs late at night, opt for protein instead. Sugar laden junk foods are always bad, and they are comprised mostly of carbs, and fat. If people eliminated, or cut down on junk food alone, they would lose a lot of weight, and look and feel much better for it. Quitting junk food however, is usually too much to ask for most people. Most junk food is simply calorie dense garbage, totally devoid of any nutrients.
When I devise a nutrition program for a client, the first step I implement is to have them cut back on junk gradually, until it is totally eliminated from the diet, except for the rare occasional treat. Once it's gone from the diet, it's usually not thought about again, except for the occasional craving.
Eating junk food is a conditioned thing that can, and should be eliminated. In this article I will outline a plan that still allows you to eat healthy amounts of good carbs, and still lose fat in the process.
As I mentioned earlier, it's not carbs that are the villain, but rather the type of carbs eaten, and the specific times that they are ingested. If you are indulging in junk food on a daily basis, then you will most likely get fatter.
Another problem is eating carbs too close to bedtime, when your activity and expenditure of energy is lessened. This is not a mystery, and all that's needed by the person looking to lose body fat is a lifestyle change! Cut down on eating the cr@p, and you'll be well on your way to better health, increased energy, and a leaner body.
What we do when we cycle carbs in the manner that I advise, is to have three low carb days, followed by two higher carb days, to aid in recovery, and to replenish glycogen. This gives us just the right amount of carbs to be used as fuel without becoming an excessive amount.
Always use carbs from clean foods not junk foods of course. The most important thing about carb cycling, in my opinion, is too never go too high throughout the diet, except for the latter stages, and only if necessary. What I recommend as a starting point, to determine just how many carbs you should eat on your highest day, is to eat 1 to 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight. Start out using the latter number and adjust according to your results.
I might add that it is vital to keep a nutrition journal when cycling carbs to be able to chart progress and make adjustments during the diet. This takes the guesswork out of dieting and can also be looked back upon in the future to see how the body responded to certain tactics, and is an invaluable tool.
NOTE: Do not count fibrous vegetables into your total carb count for the day. They are low in calories and carbs and are a good source of fiber and do not count while carb cycling. Only count starchy complex carbs.
Activity level, training intensity level, age, as well as sex, will determine how much you will need to adjust things, but as a rule I have found that 200 grams of carbs as your highest amount, is a good place to start.
After a time you can decide whether you want to raise them a bit, or lower them, based on your results, and your body's feedback. It is a good practice to try this technique well in advance of your contest to sort of "learn" your body, and how it responds to this procedure.
Below is an example of my 5-day carb cycling method using 200 grams of carbs as the highest amount on a high day.
*Day-1: 150 grams
*Day-2: 100 grams
*Day-3: 50 grams
*Day-4: 125 grams
*Day-5: 200 grams
Repeat cycle as written, throughout the course of the diet.
Essentially what I do is drop 50 grams of carbs over the course of the first 3 days, then increase by 75 grams, for the next two days. Some people prefer to raise fat intake on the lower carb days, or to increase fats on their off training days, to make up for the lost calories on the lower carb days.
After the first carb cycle, you may find that you can drop your carbs by 25 grams the next cycle. Each person has different levels of tolerance for low carbs. Don’t take the risk of lowering your carbs so much that you can’t think straight or lose lean body mass. Enjoy the process, enjoy the results!
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What are Macros and What is Cutting?
I’m guessing if you’ve got this far, you probably know the answers to both these questions, but here’s a quick rundown...
Macros are protein, carbs and fat. They are what your body needs for energy, recovery and day to day function, and each has a certain calorie value. Protein and carbohydrate have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram. Alcohol is a fourth macronutrient and has 7 calories per gram, but for now we’re not overly concerned with this.
Cutting essentially means losing body fat.
So there you have it – “How to Calculate Macros for Cutting” translates to “How much protein, carbohydrate and fat do I need to get lean?”
Step 1: Determining Calories
Before looking at macros, we need to work out how many calories you need each day.
Now, I could send you off to do some crazily complicated calculation to determine exactly how many calories you need, so difficult you’d end up hiring your local university maths professor to do it for you. Would this work? Probably, but so does my much simpler method...
Take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 11 to 14.
Here’s how to work out what you should multiply by –
Multiply by 11 if you have a sedentary job and do little to no exercise.
Multiply by 12 if you have a relatively active job (think postman, bin/garbage man, etc.) or you have a sedentary job but train 2 to 3 times per week.
Multiply by 13 if you have an active job and train 2 to 3 times per week, or have a sedentary job and train at an intense level (ie. weight training, or high level aerobics) 4 to 6 times per week.
Multiply by 14 if you have an active job and train at an intense level (ie. weight training, or high level aerobics) 4 to 6 times per week, or you’re an athlete training every day or multiple times per day.
* Note – Be honest with your number here. Don’t think that by picking multiplying by 11 when you’re really a 14 will lead to you getting shredded sooner. You will probably drop weight quicker, but you’ll also lose muscle mass, look like crap and performance will suffer. Likewise, if you occasionally, sometimes, when you feel like it and when your friends are also up for it, go to an aerobics class a couple of times per week, you can’t justify this moderate activity by putting yourself at 13 or 14.
Done that? Good, remember that number.
Step 2: Working Out Protein
Take your bodyweight in pounds. This is the number of grams of protein you’ll eat per day.
Super easy. Weigh 130 pounds? That’s 130 grams per day. Weigh 200 pounds? That’s 200 grams of protein.
Step 3: Working Out Fat
You need between 0.3 and 0.6 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight.
This should be largely based off personal preference, as provided you’re hitting a minimum of 0.3 and not exceeding 0.6, you’re okay. To determine what your ideal intake should be, ask yourself what your favorite types of foods are.
If you tend to err towards fattier foods, such as cheese, bacon, nuts and fatty desserts, then aim for 0.5 or 0.6 grams of fat per pound. You’ll likely enjoy a diet far more (and therefore be much more likely to stick to it) if you have more room for your preferred higher-fat foods in your diet.
If, on the other hand, you’re more of a carb-o-holic, and crave bread, pasta, crisps and pretzels, aim for 0.3 to 0.4 grams per pound. Your carb and fat intake will be inversely proportional, so the higher one is, the lower the other. Therefore, you can go lower with your fat intake in order to consume more carbs.
The only caveats to the above (though these are really minor details) is that athletes focused on performance and needing to recover quickly should keep their carbs high to moderate, while if you rarely train, or only ever partake in gentle exercise, your carb tolerance is likely lower, so set fat towards the higher end of the scale.
Step 4: Working Out Carbs
This is where you’ll need a calculator. Grab one, I’ll wait...
First up, take your daily protein intake and multiply it by 4. There are 4 calories in a gram of protein, so this will give you how many calories you’re consuming from protein each day.
Then multiply your fat intake in grams by 9 to give your fat calories.
Add these two numbers together, and subtract the result from the total number of calories you’re aiming for each day.
This will give you how many calories you need from carbs each day. Divide this by 4 (remember – carbs have 4 calories per gram) and that’s how many carbs you need each day.
If you’re struggling, check out these two examples.
Case Study 1: 140 pound female with a sedentary job who trains twice per week and prefers higher-fat foods –
Calories needed = (140×12) = 1,680
Protein = 140 x 1 = 140g
Fat = 140 x 0.5 = 70g
Protein and fat calories = (140 x 4) + (70 x 9) = 1,190
Carbs = (1,680 – 1,190) ÷ 4 = 122.5g
Daily Macros = 140g protein, 70g fat, 122.5g carbs
Case Study 2: 190 pound male semi-professional athlete, training multiple times per week at high intensities.
Calories needed = (190×14) = 2,660
Protein = 190 x 1 = 190g
Fat = 190 x 0.4 = 76g
Protein and fat calories = (190 x 4) + (76 x 9) = 1,444
Carbs = (2,660 – 1,444) ÷ 4 = 304g
Daily Macros = 190g protein, 76g fat, 304g carbs
Progress and Variations
I am 100% confident that were you to follow the numbers generated by these calculations, you would have no issues whatsoever in shedding body fat. You will however need to make certain adjustments as you progress.
Fat loss is almost never linear, so as you get leaner and your body weight drops, you’ll need to continue to create an energy deficit, either by increasing energy expenditure by training more, or by decreasing your food intake. The most effective way I’ve found to judge progress is to weigh yourself once every one to two weeks and take progress photos.
If you feel you’re not losing fat, lower your total calories by between 50 and 100 per day. (This should mainly come from carbs and fat, as protein is needed to preserve muscle mass.) Always aim for the smallest drop possible, unless you have a specific deadline to make, such as a bodybuilding contest or a photo shoot.
These macros are also only a guide, and may need slight tweaking from the outset. If you’re losing more than a couple of pounds per week after the first three or four weeks and are not obese, it may be the case you can tolerate a higher calorie intake, so go back to step 1, and re-work your macros using a higher energy factor. Genetically-gifted individuals who already carry a large amount of muscle mass may be able to diet on 15 or 16 calories per pound, or possibly even higher.
The macros are also variable — there’s no need to hit each one exactly, provided you’re consistent. Aim to be within 5 to 10 grams of each on a daily basis, and don’t sweat it if you’re a little over or under.
Stay Active, Be Healthy!
Benefits of Small Group Training
There are a wide variety of different ways to encourage you to maintain your training regimen, but a small group training plan is one of the best. Whether you're trying to lose weight, get in good shape, maintain your form or figure or achieve another goal, one of the keys to any exercise plan is consistency. However, the challenges of exercising can be daunting for many people, and it's not uncommon for people to give up after only a short period of time.
Fortunately, a small group can help you to track your progress, maintain your efforts toward your ultimate goals, and have a lot more fun as you train than you would if you exercised by yourself.
Small Groups for Motivation
Most people find that it's much easier to stay motivated if you do it with other people and not just by yourself. If you're interested in getting in better shape, find a group of three to five other friends who are interested in achieving similar goals. You do not need to be approaching the exercise plan from the same place, nor do you need to be at the same level of fitness either. Establishing a set of group policies can help you to stay focused and on track.
Small Groups for Support
When you've entered into a difficult stage of your exercise program, having people there alongside you to share in your experience and encourage you along the way is oftentimes the difference between a successful exercise plan and one that tends to fizzle out over time. Share in your challenges and your successes with your fellow group members, and be supportive of their efforts as well.
Small Groups for Fun
Most anyone will agree that exercising alone can become boring and tedious. When your exercising is boring or tedious, you're that much more likely to give it up before you have had the chance to reap the full benefit of the training program. To keep yourself going, make use of your fellow group members. For instance, try enrolling in a cardiovascular class at a local gym together. Alternately, you can work out at the same time each day. Having other people to talk to and share experiences with while you work out can help you to have a good time while you exercise.
Small group reward systems can be much better than standard reward systems as well. Many people set up a reward system for themselves that is difficult to maintain or detrimental to their goals. With a small group, however, you can provide an incentive for maintaining your end of the exercise bargain; if one person doesn't complete his obligation to exercise, the entire group will suffer and won't receive a reward. This helps to keep people in check and encourages all group members to look out for one another while simultaneously maintaining a sense of personal responsibility.
If your group wants the benefit of instruction, then it is safe to say that the cost of Small Group Personal Training is much less expensive than Private, One on One Sessions. Not only will you have the accountability of having an appointment set for your training, you will be able to do more sessions with a professional trainer. One on One sessions usually will cost anywhere between $45.00 to $100.00 per session, while group training will cost anywhere between $12.00 and $30.00 a session, depending on how many people are in the group.
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Why Stay Hydrated?
Many people underestimate the importance of water to the body. What is even more alarming is that even among the most experienced athletes - there is a huge gap in knowledge regarding the understanding as to why proper hydration is important for health, and for competitive success.
The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water. Water is also the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. It is not only the most important nutrient in the body, but also the most abundant. Water is critical to the balance of all the body's systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and muscles.
How important is this balance? A 2% drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking. Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength, cause cramping, and slow muscular response.
Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. How common a problem is this in the United States? Estimates are that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. This is alarming since proper hydration is required for maintaining healthy blood flow, proper kidney function, proper sodium/potassium /electrolyte balance and proper digestive functions.
Water has many health benefits. Health benefits include the following:
Ensuring that you are properly hydrated will prove to be a far better solution to preventing or decreasing wrinkles than the many expensive and in most cases barely effective products being marketing to the public.
* Water makes teeth and bone stronger. The additional fluoride added to the water supply provides extra strength and bone density to teeth and bones.
* Water is extremely important to the joints. Synovial fluid contains water; if you become dehydrated, less synovial fluid is available to protect the joints.
* Water is essential for nutrient absorption and many chemical reactions in the body for overall health, including proper brain function and improvements in memory.
* Water helps improve the digestive process and is imperative in maintaining a healthy urinary tract and digestive system.
* Water is important to properly metabolize food. Drinking sufficient amounts of water will help reduce constipation.
Drinking sufficient amounts of water will help the body process and transport nutrients and excrete any waste products once they are metabolized.
Although water does not provide energy in the same way carbohydrates and fat do, it plays an important role in energy transformation.
Water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place. If you become dehydrated you will become lethargic, may experience cramping, and endurance and strength performance will suffer. Athletes who become dehydrated often find reduced performance in the days following.
HELPS IN WEIGHT LOSS
Water can suppress appetite naturally and increases the body's ability to metabolize stored fat.Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits.
This is thought to occur because a reduction in water decreases the efficiency of the kidneys, which results in some kidney functions being shunted to the liver.
Since one of the liver's primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body, it metabolizes less fat while performing functions normally performed by the kidneys. This results in less stored fat burned, and a reduction in weight loss.
REDUCES FLUID RETENTION
The body perceives dehydration as a threat to survival and begins to hold on to every drop. Water is stored in extracellular spaces (outside the cell) which can result in swollen extremities (feet, legs, and hands).
Diuretics offer a temporary solution, but may cause more harm than good if abused. Why? Diuretics will cause the elimination of water, along with many essential nutrients.
Also the body will perceive this conditioning as a threat and replace the lost water at the first opportunity; this causes bloating and fluid retention once again. Regularly drinking plenty of water will eliminate this problem.
HELPS BUILD MUSCLE
Water is needed to transport nutrients to your cells and transport waste out of the body. Water helps form the structures of protein and glycogen.
In order to move and flex your muscles, you need water. If your body is dehydrated, your muscles will be deprived of electrolytes and cramp. Since muscles are controlled by nerves, without the proper water and electrolyte balance, muscle strength and control will also be impaired.
It is essential that you stay hydrated if you want to build muscle and experience optimal performance in the gym.
"SINCE MUSCLES ARE CONTROLLED BY NERVES, WITHOUT THE PROPER WATER AND ELECTROLYTE BALANCE MUSCLE STRENGTH AND CONTROL WILL ALSO BE IMPAIRED."
INCREASES MUSCLE TONE
Muscles are made primarily of water. Dehydration can prevent muscles from properly contracting, reducing muscle tone.
Increasing water intake will help prevent muscle cramping, improve the strength of muscle contractions and quicken muscle response. Preventing dehydration will also help prevent sagging skin, since water will fill out the muscles, resulting in clear, healthy, and resilient skin.
REDUCES RISK OF DISEASE
Studies have shown that increasing daily water intake has shown to decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50%, and it may potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is also believed that water may prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
OTHER KNOWN BENEFITS
Water also aids circulation, and helps regulate the body's cooling system.
WATER AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Many people are unaware of how water affects performance. Even being slightly dehydrated can cause poor performance, and it's often overlooked. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance, severely impeding athletic performance.
By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Once dehydrated endurance is diminished, strength can drop, and the effect can last into the following day(s). Instead of relying on a signal, drink water at regular intervals regardless if you're thirsty or not.
It is suggested that the average person—who is fairly inactive—requires a minimum of 8-to-12 cups of water per day. However, this amount is far too low for athletes and active people. Active people need much more to replace the fluid lost during exercise.
Depending on your size and perspiration rate, you lose about four cups of water per hour of exercise. If you are working out in a mild climate, you are probably losing about 1/2 gallon of water through perspiration.
If you are working out in a hot climate, you can easily lose a gallon or more by the end of your workout and cardio session. Athletes need even more water to assist with the metabolism of the additional food and supplements consumed.
The easiest way to stay hydrated is to drink at least eight ounces each hour you're awake. When you are in the gym and thirsty it is easy to drink 4-to-8 times that amount if you bring a wide-mouth container with you for constant refilling.
Other hints: when you get in the car, go to a meeting, sit down to watch TV, or sit down to eat a meal, always have something to drink with you. Journal your water intake for a few days, you’ll be surprised!
Stay Active, Be Healthy!
Find Your Motivation to Get into Better Physical Condition
Every time a person joins up at tha Gym, or signs up for classes, they are asked the basic question. What motivated you to get started on a physical fitness program? topic because knowing which type of motivation best compels you can be a really important factor in achieving your fitness goals. It went over so well that I thought I would share it with you!
As you read through these motivation types, you may realize that you fall into more than one category? that's a good thing! You can use various techniques to ensure that you make it through those rough days and move onto bigger and better things.
People who are motivated by achievement desire to improve skills and prove their competency to themselves and others. It can be an internal desire to strive for personal accomplishment or a search for positive feedback or recognition from others.
If you're motivated by achievement and recognition from others, tie your goals to something personal like being healthy and fit for your family. We all want to feel like a good mom or dad and it certainly never hurts to get affirmation from others who see us feeding our children healthy options and staying active.
If you're more intrinsically motivated, take photos of yourself regularly so you can compare them and see the results. When you do notice changes, take a moment to reflect and bask in the glory. Allow your success to motivate you to future changes!
Nobody wants to feel stagnant or stuck in their situation. The desire for personal growth and change can be a great motivator.
Your motivation to change can be related to fitness. You no longer want to be sedentary, overweight, or too thin. You want to change your lifestyle, feel better about yourself, and discover a new identity. If you're ready to change who you are, start identifying yourself as what you want to be: a cyclist, a runner, a bodybuilder, or a dancer. Tell people that's who you are. From there, your new self-identification becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You turn into what you want to be!
Another great way to use growth motivation is to look at your workout as a break, a time to focus on yourself without any work or kids to interrupt you. Personal time is so important for your own well-being. Thinking of your workout as personal, and therefore as a way to improve yourself will help you stick to your workouts.
If you're motivated by power, it means you want to control your own life. You want to determine the outcome and are thus more driven to create the outcome you want. If this sounds like you, you can harness your desire for control by setting smaller, attainable goals.
More important than setting a main goal to lose 40 pounds, set weekly and monthly goals to increase your reps or weight and/or increase your cardio. It's also smart to start off with bite-sized chunks. So, instead of setting the goal to go to the gym every single day, set the goal to work out three times per week. Setting attainable, realistic goals will help empower you to succeed.
Another way to tap into the power aspect of motivation is to vary your routine and choose what you want and like to do. Doing the same exercises and routines over and over can be monotonous and can often lead to plateaus. You can also keep a journal about which weights you use each workout and how much you increase each week.
Social motivation can be extremely effective, especially with so many social media platforms. With a desire to belong or to catch the eye of a special someone, people will often use the affirmations from others to motivate them further. Some people who are motivated socially also like to use their success to encourage others to make positive changes of their own.
IF YOU'RE MOTIVATED SOCIALLY, FIND A BUDDY TO TRAIN WITH
If you're motivated socially, find a buddy to train with. There is nothing like some friendly competition to spur a good workout. You may also consider joining an exercise class. The camaraderie you develop with your classmates is a great way to keep you coming back.
Some people are motivated through fear of consequences. This type of motivation can be effective, but can also be a little extreme. If you like to have consequences attached to a goal, go public with your fitness goals and post them on social media. The fear of disappointing others or publicly failing is often enough to keep you on track.
If you find this type of motivation is effective, you may want to think about signing up for an event like a fitness competition, a mud run, or a marathon. Along with paying an entry fee, the fear of stepping on stage or performing poorly at an event just might be the push you need. Buying fancy workout clothes and hiring a trainer can also play into this type of motivation. The fear of wasting money may actually keep you coming back to the gym.
Incentive motivation involves rewards. Knowing that that there is a reward for tackling your fitness goals can make the whole experience more fun and exciting. Perhaps the incentive is a long-awaited vacation? You could pay yourself after each completed workout. If you paid yourself $5 per workout four times each week, you'd have about $1,000 by the end of the year. That's a decent vacation!
KNOWING THAT THAT THERE IS A REWARD FOR TACKLING YOUR FITNESS GOALS CAN MAKE THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE MORE FUN AND EXCITING.
Another good and often favorite incentive for many people is a night out for dinner without worrying about calories or macros. I'd recommend only doing this once each month—you don't want to squash a week's worth of hard work in a single sitting.
EXTRA MOTIVATION IDEAS
Here are more things you can do to stay motivated through your fitness journey!
* Keep your gym music fresh. High-energy music will help you work out with more intensity and focus.
* Get enough sleep! Lack of sleep will derail your training program faster than anything. Most people overcompensate for their lack of energy by eating too much or skipping the gym altogether.
* Be patient. Make a promise to yourself to stick with it for at least 3 or 4 months. Consistency is the key.
* Don't try to change every habit at once. Choose one habit to change at a time. For example, start with "get at least 7 hours of sleep each night".
* Stick to your diet and exercise plan for at least 30 consecutive days. The more often behaviors are repeated, the more likely they will become ingrained and habitual.
My number one motivational tip is: Get on a professionally designed, long-term program! Lasting change is about progression and consistency. You can't expect to stay motivated 100 percent of the time. Proper, individualized programming can carry you through when your willpower falters.
Stay Active, Be Healthy!
Holiday Tips to Maintain Weight
How full is too full?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But let’s face it. While these next celebrations will be full of good cheer, they are really going to push the limits of our clothing seams. The holidays are just around the corner and during that time of year, the average American gains between 8 and 10 pounds.
Don't deprive yourself.
It is a special time with special foods and family around to enjoy them, but not to the point of being sick.
Know that you are going to have special foods and schedule them in. If you are having a big holiday dinner, then eat lighter for breakfast and lunch, or focus on higher-fiber fruits and vegetables. Limit those big meals to one a day. Don't have Grandma's special pancake for breakfast on the same day as the Thanksgiving turkey. Save it for later in the week.
Our stomachs don’t tell us we are hungry, our minds do.
It often takes upwards of six to eight hours before our stomachs start to rumble and tell us we are hungry and need to eat. This is called “tummy hungry.” This is when our bodies are overdue for food and are telling us that. Most of our hunger comes from thinking about food, smelling food, seeing food, or being reminded it is time to eat. This sets our minds on food and we convince ourselves we are hungry and it’s time to eat. Most children interpret this signal from our brains as hunger when it is really just a desire to eat tasty food. This is called “yummy hungry".
This is why we can often overeat during holidays, because even though we aren't really hungry and just need more energy, we think about, see or smell food and want to eat. So next time this occurs, ask yourself, “Am I yummy hungry or am I tummy hungry?” If it is “yummy hungry,” have a bite or two of your favorite food to satisfy that craving, then walk away.
Wait on seconds.
It often times takes our bodies 20 minutes or more to fill up. Unfortunately, we will eat to the point of fullness, only to have the real feeling of full kick in later. By that time, we are overfull. Take your time at meals. Sit, talk and take a break. Give time for your body time to fill up before getting seconds.
Make a commitment.
Make a commitment to yourself to eat only during the meal, no snacking before and grazing after. Drink a full 16 oz. glass of water before your holiday meal, and you will feel full and satisfied sooner. The holidays are to enjoy being with family and friends, keep that thought foremost in your thoughts when you sit down to the holiday meal.
Stay Active, Be Healthy!
Which is better - Free Weights or Machines
Walk into any commercial fitness gym and you’ll see a combination of both free weights and machines for various strength training exercises. Some people use just free weights for their workout, some go from machine to machine to get their pump, and some use a combination of both to optimize their physique. This creates the question: which is better for you?
Free Weights vs. Machines: The Debate
The debate on whether machines or free weights are better for building muscle has been around for decades. There was a time not too long ago when machines ruled in the gym world and were ‘the’ way to train. This was what all the cool kids were doing!
Then, people realized that while machines are good for training size and strength they neglect key core & stabilization muscles. This paved way to ‘functional’ fitness and people started believing that machines were now bad for you. So, when it comes to the question of, “Which is better?” I think it is safe to say that it depends on the person and their ultimate goals. Basically, exercises that may be good for some people may not be for others. Let’s find out the pros and cons of weight machines vs. free weights and which one is right for you.
Weight Machines – Pros and Cons
• Easy to learn and use – Most machines have a picture demonstrating its use, which for most machines is pretty self explanatory. This makes them easy to use on their own or with other machines to create your own circuit. If hiring a personal trainer is out of your budget, they are easy to figure out by simply watching the person ahead of you.
• Isolate muscle groups more efficiently – Since most of your body is pretty stable on most machines you are able to target the larger muscle groups more efficiently. This is beneficial to those who have a solid foundation and are looking to improve their physique by building bigger muscles. This can be the preferred method for some bodybuilder types.
• Allow you to train with heavier weights without assistance – If you are fairly inexperienced with proper technique when using free weights, it may be difficult to add resistance. Some machines will allow you to slap on extra weight without risk of injury. This may also be useful if you are pressing or squatting without a partner or spotter. (Note: proper technique is paramount before you need to worry about adding weight. Train smart.)
• May be useful for elderly populations and/or rehab – For someone that has a really low level of fitness and/or is recovering from an injury, machines may be the tool to get their strength up quickly and safely. Since machines isolate it may also be easier to work around certain injuries.
• Non-functional – Although machines will make you bigger and stronger, they don’t train complete human movement patterns ( see primal movement patterns) that are necessary to, well, move. Weight machines just don’t translate well into strength and fitness for daily activities, not to mention athletics.
• Neglect smaller stabilizing muscles – Since you are isolating target muscle groups, the important stabilizing muscle groups around the joints take a back seat. If you neglect these smaller muscles for too long, you run the risk of chronic injury and poor posture.
• May cause injury directly and indirectly – Although safer to use with lower levels of skill, it is still possible to use too much weight and enough poor form to cause a serious injury. Overloading the same movement day in and day out is also an easy way to set yourself up for an overuse injury. Form is important and like anything else the danger is in the dose!
• Fill up during peak hours – If you have ever worked out in a commercial gym during peak hours you may have noticed that every machine in the place seems to be filled up. Instead of waiting for that guy that has been on the machine bench press for 20 minutes to get up, head over to the free weight area for some more breathing room.
Who Should Use Weight Machines?
• Beginner – Someone who is very new to the gym and doesn’t know how to properly utilize the free weights just yet. Even though there are pictures on the machines I recommend asking for a personal trainer’s advice for proper use.
• Bodybuilders – When size and aesthetics is your main goal there is a lot of efficacy to using machines to pump up those muscles! For a better more well-rounded physique I do recommend a combination of both weight machines and free weights though.
• Rehab – Machines may be an easy way to rehab an injury if you don’t have a physical therapist or trainer to work with you. Once you are feeling better it may be better to move to bodyweight exercises and take preventative measures.
Free Weights – Pros and Cons
• Allow you to train functional movements – This could be a topic on its own, but basically free-weights and bodyweight exercises have greater carryover to what you do in real life such as daily activities as well as athletics.
• You can use full range of motion – You have complete freedom to move around rather than being locked into a specific range of motion or pattern. This allows your body to do what it is naturally built to do, move.
• Place a greater demand on stabilizing muscles – Using free weights will activate more synergistic stabilizing muscles while you are training. Will help to keep your joints healthy and fully operational when done properly!
• More bang for your buck exercises – If you have limited time to train and want to get a lot accomplished with few exercises then free-weights are the way to go. My two favorites are deadlifts and Turkish get-ups. There isn’t a muscle in your body that doesn’t get worked with these two alone!
• Allow for endless variation – With machines you are really limited to what you can do depending on what is available. With free weights, all you need is one dumbbell and you can do hundreds of different exercise variations. One of my favorite circuits to do is to choose one dumbbell and do as many exercises as possible for time. Press, squat lunge, swing and carry are just a few!
• Train anywhere – Learning how to train with free-weights or body weight allows you to literally train anywhere since machines aren’t always available. When I go on vacation and travel by car it is easy to bring a kettlebell, some bands and a TRX to get in some quality training.
• Less expensive – Free weights are the way to go if you don’t have access to a gym since they are much less expensive than machines. You can easily build a killer home gym for under $200!
• Takes some skill to learn proper technique – Free weight exercises have a higher learning curve than machines and you may need someone to show you proper technique. Having a trainer show you or reading a book on weight training may be the way to go. Take your time and try to avoid creating bad habits by copying others that have bad form (e.g. Youtube).
• Greater risk of injury when not done properly – When using bad form it is easy to move a bodypart or joint out of proper alignment and tweak something. This can cause injury so make sure you know what you are doing and use the appropriate weight.
• Need a spotter to lift heavy weight on squat or bench press exercises – Some exercises are difficult to improve on if you don’t have a training partner or which may slow down progress. At the very least you can ask a trainer to check your form and maybe give you a quick spot. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.
Who Should Use Free Weights?
• Most people – Pretty much anybody can benefit from using free weights properly to build a strong and lean body using a good program like the one here at BuiltLean. It is important to build functional strength and muscle to be able to do the things you enjoy and stay active later in life!
• Athletes – To compete at high levels and remain injury-free, athletes’ bodies have to move synergistically and the best way to achieve this is to train the same way. A combination of free weights and bodyweight exercises is the way to go!
• Bodybuilders – The best way to get bigger is to get stronger and the best way to get stronger is through free weights. Once you build up your strength, you can add in some weight machines to isolate and ‘build’ specific muscle groups. I recommend the bulk (no pun intended) of bodybuilding training to come from free weights but it is ok to add in some isolated machine work too!
• Rehab – Free weights may speed up the rehab process by adding in functional movements to get you moving and feeling better. They may also help you get back to the condition you were in before your injury much faster than using machines would.
Free Weights vs. Machines: Recommendations
For my own strength training programs, I prefer to use mainly free-weight exercises that focus on compound movements and total body strength. Every once in a while, though, I will throw in some bicep curls or use the row machine to change it up a bit.
I hope this list helps you decide which is best for you. At the end of the day, the form of strength training you choose should be based on what your goals are and what makes you feel good. After all, isn’t that what exercise is all about?
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The Benefits of Functional Fitness Training
Do you live to exercise? Unless you're an elite athlete, you probably answered no to that question. Most people, in fact, would say they exercise to improve their quality of life.
And that's the focus of functional fitness. Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or playing a game of basketball with your kids.
What is functional fitness training?
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
For example, a squat is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.
Functional fitness exercises can be done at home or at the gym. Gyms may offer functional fitness classes or incorporate functional fitness into boot camps or other types of classes. Exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettle bells and weights, are often used in functional fitness workouts.
What are the benefits of functional fitness training?
Functional exercises tend to be multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises. Instead of only moving the elbows, for example, a functional exercise might involve the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles. This type of training, properly applied, can make everyday activities easier, reduce your risk of injury and improve your quality of life.
Functional exercise training may be especially beneficial as part of a comprehensive program for older adults to improve balance, agility and muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.
What are examples of functional fitness exercises?
Multifaceted physical movements found in activities such as tai chi and Pilates involve varying combinations of resistance and flexibility training that can help build functional fitness.
Other examples of specific functional fitness movements that use multiple joints and muscles include:
•Squat with bicep curls
•Step-ups with weights
Multidirectional lunges prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming and yard work. To do a lunge, you keep one leg in place and step out with the other leg — to the front, back or side — until your knee reaches a 90-degree angle and your rear knee is parallel to the floor.
Are functional fitness exercises for everyone?
If you are older than age 40, haven't exercised for some time or have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their doctors.
It's also a good idea to start with exercises that use only your own body weight for resistance. As you become more fit and ready for more of a challenge, you can add more resistance in the form of weights, resistance tubing or performing movements in the water.
The functional fitness payoff
As you add more functional exercises to your workout, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities and, thus, in your quality of life. That's quite a return on your exercise investment.
So, get started on an exercise program today. Call your local Fitness Center to set up a consultation to find out what the best options are for your specific health and wellness needs.
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References: Mayo Clinic, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise
Daily Protein Intake – What Does Protein Do & Why Do You Need It?
After your daily calorie intake, the next most important part of your diet plan is your daily protein intake. It doesn’t matter if you want to lose fat, build muscle, or just be a healthy, well-functioning human being. Your daily protein intake plays an equally crucial role in allowing all of that to happen properly.
WHAT DOES PROTEIN DO?
In terms of the overall health and function of the human body, protein is essential for building and repairing things. Your organs, muscles, skin, hair, nails, bones and certain hormones are all made up of some amount of protein. It’s an absolute requirement for sustaining life and proper function. So, basically, you need enough of it on a daily basis to actually live and be healthy. Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re probably less interested in protein’s role in overall health and much more interested in how protein will help you lose fat, build muscle, and generally get your body to look and perform like you want it to look and perform. So, let’s take a quick look at why it’s such an important part of reaching your diet’s goal.
SO HOW DOES PROTEIN HELP YOU LOSE BODYFAT?
While calorie deficit is the only absolute requirement for fat to be lost, protein still plays many extremely important roles in the fat loss process. The 3 most notable are: As I’ve previously explained, losing fat requires a caloric deficit. Why? Because when a caloric deficit is created, your body will be forced to burn your own stored body fat as an alternative source of energy. The thing is, your body could just as easily decide to burn your muscle tissue (or some combination of both fat and muscle) instead. As you can probably guess, that would be a bad thing.
MAINTAINING YOUR MUSCLE TISSUE:
Your goal is to get your body to burn nothing but fat and leave all of your pretty muscle alone. Well, it turns out that eating a sufficient amount of protein on a daily basis is the key dietary factor in getting your body to preserve your muscle and burn fat instead. Yes, it’s probably even more important than the size of the caloric deficit itself. So, if your goal is to lose fat and NOT lose any muscle in the process, getting your daily protein intake right is vital to your success!
KEEPING YOU FULL:
A second major role protein plays in fat loss is one of satiation. Of all the macronutrients that we get our calories from (protein, fat, carbs), research clearly shows that protein is by far and away the most filling of them all. This makes it a huge key factor in controlling your hunger, curbing your appetite, and keeping you full and satisfied. As you can imagine, these are all things you definitely want working in your favor when trying to lose fat, and a sufficient daily protein intake will help make that happen.
INCREASING YOUR METABOLISM:
A third major role protein plays in losing fat revolves around its thermogenic properties. Because, in addition to being the most filling macronutrient, protein is also the one with the largest thermic effect.
When all foods gets digested, your body actually burns calories during that digestion process. This is referred to as the Thermic Effect of Food, and it’s one of those factors I mentioned earlier that influence what your daily calorie maintenance level is. The thing is, different foods have different thermic effects, which means some foods will actually cause MORE calories to be burned during digestion than others. And, what all research shows is that protein requires the most amount of calories to digest, which means eating more protein on a daily basis will actually lead to more calories naturally being burned by your body. Of course, just increasing your daily protein intake alone won’t create enough of an extra calorie burn to cause significant and sustained fat loss. HOWEVER, it will most definitely help.
So, if your goal is to build any amount of muscle, increase strength or improve performance in virtually any capacity, a sufficient protein intake is more than just an important part of the process. It’s a flat out requirement. Now that you fully understand what protein does and why your daily protein intake plays such an important role in losing fat, building muscle, and just being healthy, you’re probably wondering how much of it you should eat per day. We will explore that question in next month’s article, but a good general rule to go by is to eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle mass. There are huge variations on this, so ask your local fitness professional what is best for you.
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Benefits of Strength Training for Older Adults
Now that you're older, you may not spend much time flexing in front of the mirror or trying to add inches to your vertical leap. So why bother lifting weights? The truth is that building your muscles is more important than ever at this stage of life. Muscles tend to weaken with age, and this decline can eventually rob seniors of their active, independent lifestyles. Fortunately, you can reverse that trend with a few simple exercises. It's safe, it's effective, and it's never too late to start. You may even enjoy it!
The American College of Sports Medicine now recommends weight training for all people over 50, and even people well into their 90s can benefit. A group of nursing home residents ranging in age from 87 to 96 improved their muscle strength by almost 180 percent after just eight weeks of weightlifting, also known as strength training. Adding that much strength is almost like rolling back the clock. Even frail elderly people find their balance improves, their walking pace quickens, and stairs become less of a challenge.
What are the benefits of weightlifting for seniors?
Improved walking ability. A University of Vermont study of healthy seniors ages 65 to 79 found that subjects could walk almost 40 percent farther without a rest after 12 weeks of weight training. Such endurance can come in handy for your next shopping trip, but there's an even better reason to pep up your gait. Among seniors, insufficient leg strength is a powerful predictor of future disabilities, including the inability to walk. Ease in performing day-to-day tasks. By giving you the strength to handle your daily routines, weightlifting can help you maintain your independence. Researchers at the University of Alabama found that healthy women ages 60 to 77 who lifted weights three hours each week for 16 weeks could carry groceries and get up from a chair with much less effort than before.
Prevention of broken bones. Weightlifting can protect you from devastating fractures in several ways. For one, the exercises boost your strength, balance, and agility, making it less likely that you'll suffer a nasty fall. A study at Tufts University found that older women who lifted weights for a year improved their balance by 14 percent. (A control group composed of women who didn't lift weights suffered a 9 percent decline in balance in the same year.) Weight training can also build bone mass in the spine and the hip, so it's especially important for people with the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.
Relief from arthritis pain. By strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around your joints, weightlifting can dramatically improve your range of motion. It can also cut down on pain by increasing the capability of muscles surrounding the afflicted joint, which eases stress on the joint itself. Arthritis sufferers should begin by using light weights and work up to heavier ones very gradually.
Weight loss. Lifting weights doesn't burn many calories, but it does rev up your metabolism. Overweight seniors who combine strength training with a healthy diet are almost certain to shed a few pounds.
Improved glucose control. If you are among the millions of Americans with Type 2 diabetes, strength training can help you keep it under control. In one study of Hispanic men and women with diabetes, 16 weeks of strength training provided dramatic improvements, comparable to taking medication. The study also showed that volunteers increased muscle strength, lost body fat, and gained more self-confidence.
Other benefits. Studies suggest weight training can help people sleep better and even ease mild to moderate depression.
How can I get started?
You should always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program - and when you do, expect your doctor to be thrilled with your decision. If you have hypertension, your doctor may want to run a few tests to make sure lifting weights won't cause a dangerous rise in your blood pressure. Fortunately, almost all people with high blood pressure can safely enjoy the benefits of strength training.
Once you get your doctor's go-ahead, you will choose your setting and your equipment. You can join a gym or a university exercise program that offers exercise machines, professional guidance, and lots of socializing, but you can also get an excellent workout at home using barbells, cans of food, or even plastic milk jugs filled with water or gravel. And get advice from a physical trainer before you begin: Instruction on proper technique is very important to help you enjoy the exercise without risking injury.
Ades , Philip. Weight training improves walking endurance in healthy elderly persons. Annals of Internal Medicine. March 15, 1996: Vol. 124, No. 6, 168-171.
Evans, William. Exercise training guidelines for the elderly. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: 1998, 12-17.
Chalmers J et al. WHO-ISH Hypertension Guidelines Committee. 1999 World health Organization - International Society of Hypertension Guidelines for the Management of Hypertension. J Hypertension, 1999, 17:151-185.
Manson JE, et al. A prospective study of walking as compared with vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease in women. The New England Journal of Medicine. August 26, 1999, 650-659.
Centers for Disease Control. Why Strength Training? May 2007. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/growing_stronger/why.html
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Health Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a type of martial art very well known for its defense techniques and health benefits. The martial art has evolved over the years into an effective means of alleviating stress and anxiety. It has been considered to be a form of 'meditation in motion' which promotes serenity and inner peace.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition, its beliefs are thought to have been created by the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng in the 12th century. The phrase "t'ai chi ch'uan" translates to "supreme ultimate fist" or "boundless fist". Tai Chi has influences that go back to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries.
There are five different styles of Tai Chi, each with their own separate methods and principles:
* Wu- or Wu (Hao)-style
Tai Chi is considered to be safe for people of all ages as it does not put too much stress on the muscles and joints. In addition to being safe, Tai Chi is also inexpensive as it does not require much equipment. It can be practiced either in a group or alone. Modern research has found that Tai Chi has positive effects on balance control, fitness, and flexibility. In addition, the martial art has been claimed to reduce the risk of falls among elderly individuals and those who have suffered from severe heart conditions.
History of Tai Chi
Tai Chi has various different styles and variations, each of which has its own lineage and date of origin. Some forms of Tai Chi focus on health while others stress competition or self-defense. There are so many different stories that describe the origins of Tai Chi that the real one remains a mystery. However, the concepts of Tai Chi go back to the beginning of written Chinese history from Taoism and Confucianism. The founder of Tai Chi is believed to be Zhang Sanfeng. There are stories that claim Zhang Sanfeng left his monastery to become a Taoist hermit and created his own form of fighting based on softness.
Sanfeng is thought to have said:
"In every movement, every part of the body must be light and agile and strung together. The postures should be without breaks. Motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, directed by the waist and expressed by the fingers. Substantial and insubstantial movements must be clearly differentiated."
What are the health benefits of Tai Chi?
The health benefits of Tai Chi are currently being widely studied. The art has been associated with reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and enhanced mood, in both healthy people and those with chronic conditions. In addition, Tai Chi has been shown to improve aerobic capacity, increase energy, and build muscle strength.
So, find a class in your community and try a class! You will benefit in more ways than you can imagine.
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Is Strength Training Safe for Youth?
Does your community offer fitness programs for youth? If so, are you aware of the risks as well as the benefits of strength training for your child. I went online and did extensive research on these questions, as well as what age a child should start strength training, and came up with the article below to help answer those questions.
Two of the most frequently asked questions about children and strength training are; “Is it safe for kids to lift weights?” And “At what age can kids start lifting weights?” The sad truth is, many doubts surround the safety and validity of weight training for children. Many would even have you believe that kids have no place at all in the weight room. Despite this conservatism, exercise physiologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics both support the implementation of strength and resistance training programs for young children.
Is it safe for kids to lift weights?
The answer from today’s top research authorities is a resounding “yes.” Studies show that a moderate intensity strength training program can help increase strength, decrease the risks of injury while playing sports, and increase bone density in children. Exercise physiologists aren’t the only ones recommending resistance training; the American Academy of Pediatrics has also put forth a pro-strength training for children statement.
The American Academy of Pediatrics position on strength training supports the implementation of strength and resistance training programs, even for prepubescent children, that are monitored by well-trained adults and take into account the child’s maturation level. The key is to know if your child’s trainer or coach is in fact qualified. The only limitation the AAP suggests is to avoid repetitive maximal lifts (lifts that are one repetition maximum lifts or are within 2-3 repetitions of a one repetition maximum lift) until they have reached Tanner Stage 5 of developmental maturity. Tanner Stage 5 is the level in which visible secondary sex characteristics have been developed. Usually, in this stage adolescents will also have passed their period of maximal velocity of height growth.
The concern is that children wait until this stage to perform maximal lifts is that the epiphyses, commonly called “growth plates”, are still very vulnerable to injury before this developmental stage. It is repeated injury to these growth plates that may hinder growth. For this same reason, two of the leading researchers in the field of youth fitness, Fleck and Kraemer, agree that maximal lifts should be avoided. (2) However, Fleck, Kraemer and the AAP agree that a strength training program that doesn’t include maximal lifting is beneficial for prepubescent and pubescent youth. In fact, a strength and resistance training program should be required in certain instances. Let’s take a moment to review some of the research:
- “If appropriate training guidelines are followed, regular participation in a youth strength-training program has the potential to increase bone mineral density, improve motor performance skills, enhance sports performance, and better prepare young athletes for the demands of practice and competition.” (3)
- A study of young male powerlifters found that high-intensity resistance training is effective in increasing lumbar spine and whole body bone mineral density. (7)
- Resistance training enhances strength and muscular endurance in youth and children. (6) In pre-pubescent children, this increase in strength appears to be the result of neuromuscular activation and coordination supporting evidence that androgens (the hormones largely responsible for increased strength and muscle mass) are not needed for strength gain.(4)
- With proper supervision, children and youth who participate in a strength training program are not at an increased risk for injury compared to children and youth who do not participate in such a program.(4)
These few examples also make a strong statement that a strength and conditioning program reduces the possibility of injuries in children by increasing bone mass. In fact, proper resistance training is incredibly effective at stimulating growth and development, not a hindrance to it! (2)
Young Females and Strength Training
Strength training is particularly important for young girls, as females are at an increased risk for osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. There have been several studies that suggest other forms of training, such as plyometric jump training and high impact aerobics, can also increase bone mass in young females. (5, 8) Whichever type of training, it can be especially beneficial when begun prior to puberty. Greater gains in bone mass can be made in premenarchal girls than in those who have already started menstruating. (5)
At what age can kids start lifting weights?
Neither the AAP or exercise physiologists have a minimum age set for a child to begin a resistance training program. Research has been done on moderate weight training programs with children as young as 8 years. However, researchers also recognize the use of calisthenic type exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups that are commonly used in elementary school physical education classes. Body-weight resistance exercises are a good starting point for most children under the age of 8, or those at any age who are just starting a strength training program. (2) The object of this type of program is to introduce the body to the stresses of training and to teach basic technique.
After a foundation is established, light weight training can be introduced. Fleck and Kraemer recommend a training scheme of 10-15 repetitions and 1-3 sets per muscle group. The weight should be one that the child can lift for 10-15 repetitions without going to muscular failure.
Once a base has been established, the amount of exercises and the weight lifted can be increased. When a child has reached puberty (around age 13 for girls and 15 for boys) and a training foundation has been established, a more advanced periodized routine can be incorporated.
Tips for Supervising a Youth Strength and Resistance Training Program
Safety should always come first when training a youth or child. Before you begin training anyone under the age of 18, be sure to have written parental and medical permission to do so. Make sure the equipment you will be using is free from defects. It is vitally important that young clients are adequately hydrated and sufficiently warmed-up before beginning a training session. A few other important guidelines to follow are:
- youth and children should always be under the direct supervision of a competent trainer or coach when weight training.
- first establish the concept of a training program that emphasizes technique and form, not amount of weight used.
- teach positive lifestyle habits.
- allow only gradual increases in volume and intensity.
- move into entry-level adult programs and/or sport specific training only after background knowledge of training has been established and basic technique has been mastered.
- employ a wide variety of exercises and training styles to keep interest levels high.
- encourage participation in a wide variety of sports and activities.
Following these basic guidelines will help develop safe and effective programs for young children and adolescents. Of course, there are many other aspects of training children that cannot be overlooked, but are beyond the scope of this article. The ISSA’s Youth Fitness Trainer Course covers topics such assessing a child’s maturity level, nutrition, and developing a basic strength training program. For more information, call the ISSA at 1-800-892-4772 or visit http://www.ISSAOnline.edu
- American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Strength, Weight and Power Lifting, and Body Building by Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 1990; 5: 801-803.
- Fleck, S.J., Kraemer, W. J. Strength Training for Young Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1993.
- Faigenbaum, A.D. Strength training for children and adolescents. Clinical Sports Medicine. 2000; 4: 593-619.
- Guy, J.A., Micheli, L.J. Strength training for children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. 2000; 1: 29-36.
- Heinonen, A., Sievanen, H., Kannus, P., Oja, P., Pasanen, M., Vuori, I. High-impact exercise and bones of growing girls: a 9-month controlled trial. Osteoporosis International. 2000; 12: 1010-1017.
- Payne, V.G., Morrow, J.R., Johnson, L., and Dalton, S.N. Resistance training in children and youth: a meta-analysis. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 1997; 1: 80-88.
- Tsuzuku, S., Ikegami, Y., and Yabe, K. Effects of high-intensity resistance training on bone mineral density in young male powerlifters. Calcified Tissue International. 1998; 4: 283-286.
- Witzke, K.A., Snow, C.M. Effects of plyometric jump training on bone mass in adolescent girls. Medical Science and Sports Exercise. 2000; 6: 1051-1057.
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Keep Your New Year’s Wellness Resolutions
Chances are at some time in your life you’ve made a New Year’s resolution — and then broken it. This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make change and then not following through. If your resolution is to take better care of yourself and get healthy, you will have a much better year if your resolution sticks. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Be Realistic
The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to NEVER eat your favorite food again is setting you up to fail. Instead, strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding it more often than you do now.
2. Plan Ahead
Don’t make your resolution on New Year’s Eve. If you wait until the last minute, it will be based on your mindset that particular day. Instead, it should be planned well before December 31 arrives. Remember, you can make a healthy changes anytime though. Give yourself permission to starting the beginning of the month, or even the next Monday after a weekend. Do plan ahead though, make sure you have the healthy foods you are trying to make a habit of eating in your pantry and refrigerator. Keeping junk food will not help you keep you new resolution.
3. Outline Your Plan
Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have that piece of cake. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your “bad” will affect your goal.
4. Make a “Pros” and “Cons” List
It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.
5. Talk About It
Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and motivate each other.
6. Reward Yourself
This doesn’t mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to eat a better diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something you enjoy that doesn’t contradict your resolution. If you have been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, reward yourself with new fitness clothing or by going to a movie with a friend.
7. Track Your Progress
Keep track of each small success. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and each small accomplishment will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost. Loss of inches, body fat, or having more energy are also results that can be tracked and celebrated!
8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Obsessing over the occasional slip won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take one day at a time.
9. Stick to It
Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. It won’t happen overnight, so be persistent and patient!
10. Don’t Give Up!
If you have totally run out of steam when it comes to keeping your resolution by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! Recommit yourself for 24 hours. You can do anything for 24 hours. The 24-hour increments will soon build on each other and, before you know it, you will be back on track.
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Get Motivated - Join a Wellness Challenge!
It’s that time of year again! Time to re-evaluate your health and wellness, start an exercise routine, and eat better. Don’t do it alone this year. Join a Wellness Challenge! Oftentimes, your workplace is a great place to get involved with your co-workers to join or start a Challenge.
To get started, check with your workplace to see if they have a Challenge planned for the New Year! Or check at your local Fitness Center. If not, you can easily start one at your place of work. The Challenge can be based on loss of pounds, lean muscle gain, and amount of activity each participant gets involved in. You can add additional factors to your Challenge such as keeping a food journal, how much water a participant drinks in a day, etc. There is a never ending supply of good healthy habits to choose from. The Challenge can be any length of time, but remember, shorter lengths of time, such as a month or six weeks, are easier to adhere to the first time when doing it.
When it comes to putting together your exercise program, you may want to see what the local fitness center has to offer. Oftentimes, local gyms will offer a Wellness Challenge to get involved in. This is also a great place to make sure that your exercise routine is the safe, correct one designed for you.
There are a variety of ways to motivate coworkers and friends to get involved. You may want to start a cash prize system by charging a small fee to be part of the Challenge, or some other type of prize may be offered. Either way, everyone who gets involved in a Wellness Challenge wins as the results include: feeling better, having more energy, fat loss and or muscle gain, and establishing good healthy habits.
Cold weather, a hectic work schedule or even boredom with your workouts can throw you off your fitness and nutrition goals. Don’t cave into excuses. Instead, stick to your goals with the Challenge. The best part is you don’t have to be in good shape to get started, and everyone who sticks with the Challenge will feel better. All of your efforts will culminate in a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Stay Active, Be Healthy!
Local Fitness Center Holds “Wellness Week” Open House
January 5th through January 10th Kelly’s Fitness Plus & White Wolf Gym will be offering a week of informative workshops and classes covering health, wellness and nutrition.
Kelly O’Brien, owner of Kelly’s Fitness Plus& White Wolf Gym is offering the “Week of Wellness” free to the public to bring awareness to the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition. There will be raffles, prizes and refreshments during some of the workshops. Over $2000.00 in memberships and prizes will be raffled off by the end of the week.
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to get in better shape, feel healthier and have less stress in your life, you will want to register for one or more of the 39 workshops or classes offered on health, wellness and nutrition. Zumba Parties, Weight Management Workshops, Yoga, Tai chi and more will be part of the menu of events. If you don’t see a class or workshop that fits your schedule, you can meet with a personal trainer to have them put together an exercise prescription specifically for you. You can check the calendar of events at weavervilleonline.net and call to register for a workshop, class or appointment 623-0014.
New Personal Trainer to start at Local Fitness Center
Kelly’s Fitness Plus and White Wolf Gym announce the addition of their new Certified Personal Trainer, Michael (Zeb) Young. Zeb began working out with weights and educating himself on health and fitness when he was just 12 years old. In high school, as a standout football player, he focused on strength and fitness to enhance his play on the field. But those early seeds blossomed into a passion for fitness and the fire to stay fit and healthy has continued with Zeb for more than three decades since. Unlike some personal trainers who have worked out and researched very little on their own, Zeb has lived health and fitness his entire life, and he has done it the hard way - naturally.
Zeb has experienced the personal challenges of being fit from the early beginnings of adolescence, through the strength and growth that comes much easier as a young adult, to the fitness and dietary changes one must adapt to as he or she enters middle age and maturity, where the body changes and is more prone to injury and weight gain. Throughout it all, Zeb has continued to read the latest literature on health, fitness, and diet, to insure the most effective training and diet for his changing body. Like many personal trainers, Zeb is certified through American College of Sports Medicine, but it is the nearly four decades of health and fitness that sets him apart from the other personal trainers. When you talk with Zeb about your own personal training and fitness goals, you will immediately see the passion, experience, and knowledge, that sets him apart from the pack. He invites you to set up a complimentary consultation to set up your personal exercise prescription.
You can call Zeb at 623-0014.
Youth Fitness and Athletic Clinics to be Held at Local Fitness Center
Kelly’s Fitness Plus and White Wolf Gym will be holding two 10 week courses on “Youth Fitness and Athletic Training” starting September 16th and 18th at 4:00 PM. The class on Tuesday will be for children 5 to 10 years old, Thursday, for youth 11 to 16.The objective of the class is to prepare youth for the sport of their choice as well as to teach the benefits of exercise and teamwork.
Parents are encouraged to attend the first week to meet coaches Rick Murray C.P.T. and Kelly O’Brien C.P.T. and fill out profile sheets for their children.
Rick Murray is a Certified Personal Trainer with American College of Sports Medicine and has been a youth coach for Baseball, Martial Arts as well as Wrestling. He has 39 years combined experience in training youth teams as well as individuals. Kelly O’Brien has coached pre-season strength training for high school football and wrestling as well as run Fitness Camps for youth ages 5 to 16. She is a Certified Personal Trainer with Exercise Science Alliance, is a physical therapist Aide and has over 30 years of experience.
Emphasis on speed and agility, strength endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance and injury prevention will be covered in the Clinics. The benefits of Plyometric training, suspension training, resistance bands, free weights, bodyweight, short and intermediate distance running will be covered. Assessments in the 50 yard dash, muscle endurance and flexibility will be done as well.
Please call Kelly O’Brien at 623-0014 to register for the Clinics.
Kelly's Fitness and White Wolf Gym partners with Trinity County Sheriff's Department
Kelly O’Brien, owner of Kelly’s Fitness and White Wolf gym, is excited to announce participating with the Sheriff’s Department in the 2013 Relay For Life campaign. Kelly will be offering a free personal training session in exchange for purchasing a luminarie bag. One of the highlights of the event is the Luminaria Ceremony. During the event, people may purchase a luminarie bag in memory or in honor of someone who has been touched by cancer. The luminarie bags are placed around the track and lit during a memorial program that includes guest speakers.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to share this experience with our local Sheriff’s Department“. Says Kelly. “Since we are a Wellness Facility, our programs focus on helping many cancer survivors“.
For more information on our programs and Relay For Life fundraiser please call Kelly at : 623-0014.
Kelly O’Brien: Fitness Dynamo...
Kelly O’Brien: Fitness Dynamo Over-50 physique champion has incredible recovery from near-death experience
Kelly O’Brien lives her life to the fullest. She is an age-defying bodybuilding champion and the epitome of a human dynamo: energetic, active, vibrancy personified, Kelly is a card-carrying professional bodybuilder on the wrong side of 50. She still competes at a high level in bodybuilding and has just embarked on a new competitive career as a Figure competitor. Kelly is a grandmother and packs an unbelievable amount of activity and living into her busy and energetic life. This athletic lady started weight training at the tender age of 15 and used bodybuilding as a way in which to overcome her undiagnosed anorexia. “I weighed 78 pounds in high school; this was before eating disorders were known of or discussed. By taking up bodybuilding I squared away my nutrition and once I overcame my aversion to food, I found I added muscle quite easily and quickly.” Once she committed to bodybuilding Kelly progressed so rapidly that by age 18 she entered her first bodybuilding competition.
Kelly began competing in the (then) embryonic world of female bodybuilding; this was back in the early 1980s. Kelly recalled those early days. “I was raised in California and exposed to the Southern California bodybuilding scene very early on. I competed in one contest where Corey and Jeff Everson competed in the dual-pairs competition. This would have been before Corey began her long Olympia reign.” Kelly moved around Southern California, from San Diego to Catalina Island before moving to Kodiak, Alaska in 1990. “I was intrigued about Alaska. I was seriously looking for some real life adventure. This prompted my move north.” Unfortunately soon after relocating to Alaska, she went through a horrific, life-altering event. On New Year’s Day of 1993 Kelly was a passenger in a vehicle that accidently drove off an Alaskan mountainside cliff. The vehicle plunged 1000 feet before crash landing. Kelly’s friend was killed. She lay trapped for hours; her pelvis shattered, she was near death and drifting into hypothermia when rescuers arrived and she was finally taken by helicopter to a hospital.
She survived but was physically and emotionally devastated. “It took a long time to recover.” At the time of the accident Kelly had been in the best shape of her young life. “I was a few weeks away from competing in the Alaska State bodybuilding championships when the accident occurred. The only reason I survived was my excellent physical condition.” It took a long while for Kelly to get her life back on track; it took years for her to regain any semblance of physical normality. As soon as she was physically recovered, Kelly began serious training. “Just as bodybuilding had helped me overcome my eating disorder, now bodybuilding helped me rehabilitate myself after the accident.” Over the next few years she patiently rebuilt her shattered body. Given time and using bodybuilding training and nutrition, she rehabbed her physique to a degree that exceeded her pre-accident physical condition – which had been superb. It seemed miraculous how far she had risen given how close to death she had been.
Kelly got so good that in 2010 she jumped back into the competitive arena. “In 2010 I competed in the ABA California State Bodybuilding Championships. I won my class and I won the overall title. I won my pro card. All in my first competition coming off a long retirement; I was slightly shocked and extremely pleased.” Kelly was ecstatic and reenergized. She was also a bit bedazzled at all the new divisions in female bodybuilding that had sprung up since she left the scene. “I was a little out of touch and was caught unaware of the new divisions: bikini, figure and physique. We are now back in high heel shoes competing. It seems like only yesterday when I heard the beautiful and regal Carla Dunlop make an eloquent plea for women to “lose the high heels in competition and act like athletes!” Kelly set aside any reservations and donned her heels and by the time you read this she will have competed in a high-level Figure competition.
Kelly has been a fitness professional since her teens. “I have worked in the gym business, the fitness business, since I was age 18.” Currently Kelly is the proud owner of Kelly’s Fitness Plus & White Wolf Gym. She is located in Weaverville, California. At this stage of her long career Kelly O’Brien is the consummate fitness professional and a genuine business dynamo. Her facility has fitness service-related contracts with the County Behavioral Health clinic, the County Hospital, the Weaverville School District, Lumber Mill, Fish & Game and the Public Utility District. Kelly added, “We are an affiliate of Silver Sneakers, a Health Ways insurance wellness and exercise plan that Senior citizens can obtain through Medicare. We sponsor the Annual Health Fair in conjunction with the United States Forest Service.” Weaverville is the County Seat and a picturesque locale that boasts the Trinity Alps. “Our town was runner-up last year for Best Small Town in the United States.” Kelly’s facility has 400 + members, this is up 250 from two years ago.
“I have a terrific staff; six certified personal trainers, five certified group exercise instructors and my new manager, Tina Scott. Tina is enabling me to not have to work 80 hours per week.” Kelly is not joking. “I will teach eight to ten cardio classes per week, including ZUMBA, Cardio Dance, and Spin. I also will lead classes in yoga, Pilates, Aqua, Boot Camp and Women with Weights. I do most of the one-on-one consultations and write the exercise prescriptions. I match clients to the classes and to the fitness training they specifically need to get results. I do about ten hours of one-on-one personal training per week. I enjoy getting real results for regular people. That is really what the fitness business should be all about. One of my biggest thrills is assisting a sincere person in transforming physically – what could be more satisfying or provide greater job satisfaction?” In addition to all this, she needs to find time for her own training, which requires 15-20 hours per week.
She has to wear many hats as the owner of Fitness Plus. “I teach three spin classes per week, four Zumba/Salsa classes and three Cardio Dance Classes. Obviously, with that much aerobic activity I have to eat a lot of food just to break even. I need to eat at least 3000 calories on days I work out. I need to sustain the muscle tissue around my joints (especially my hips) as this keeps my accident-related pain at bay. I cannot put too much stress on my joints. I avoid high impact cardio activity. I love a light, jog/run with my dog CeCe. When I am training for a competition, I keep the jogging to a minimum. I really am getting into teaching Yoga, Pilates and Balance Dance class, as these classes force me to slow down. I “breathe in” my days, smell the roses, so to speak, I re-center myself. Flexibility, balance and range of motion are vital as we grow older. I also teach Boot Camp and this format gives me an excuse to play with medicine balls, kettlebells, calisthenics and TRX Suspension training. I love exercise variety.”
Kelly has had a long association with John Parrillo. In an odd twist they actually met in Alaska. “I first met John Parrillo back in 1998 when I was living in Kodiak, Alaska. I went to a bodybuilding seminar that John was putting on right before the 1998 Alaska State bodybuilding championships that I was competing in. I thought his seminar was incredible and his no-nonsense approach made perfect sense to me. We started using Parrillo Products for our own preparation and we began selling these potent supplements at our gym in Kodiak, Alaska. John’s seminar theme was “bodybuilding preparation.” It was held at Lindsay Knights’ gym in Anchorage. John really motivated me. I was further thrilled when later that weekend I won my division in the Alaska State Bodybuilding Championships.”
Kelly really got back in the swing of things at the 2011 Natural Olympia competition. “I won the Overall Masters (Junior 35 thru Grand Masters 59) Physique and the silver medal in Grand Masters Bodybuilding and was ecstatic to be back competing. It really felt right. In 2012 I competed in the California State bodybuilding championships, winning two classes. Again, how gratifying to be recognized for your hard work. I decided to warm up for the 2012 Natural Olympia by entering the ABA Western States, and I got 1st place in the Grand Masters Physique and 1st Place Open Bodybuilding. I competed at the 2012 Natural Olympia and won the Grand Master title in the over 50 years of age division and the Overall Masters (Junior 35 thru Grand Masters 59) Physique.” Another female competition format caught her eye. “Four months ago I decided that I would like to try competing in the Figure Division. I am in training right now to do my first NPC Figure show, a national qualifier, in Sacramento on March 23rd. I feel that I am starting all over again, this time in a new and different format. It is exciting and exhilarating. I find that I still get that same fantastic adrenaline rush each time I step out onstage.” Which means we can look forward to seeing Kelly onstage far into the foreseeable future; she will (no doubt) continue to redefine our dated concepts about age and aging.
Kelly’s Workout Split:
Push/Chest 15 to 18 sets
Pull/Shoulders 9 to 12 sets
Legs 20 to 24 sets
Wednesday off (“I teach a ton of classes that day.”)
Pull/Back 15 to 18 sets
Push/Shoulders 9 to 12 sets
Pull/Biceps 10 to 12 sets
Push/Triceps 10 to 12 sets
Calves 8 to 12 sets
“I never do the same routine twice in the same week. I hit each body part one time a week REALLY HARD. When I am training for a competition I will try to hit one or two body parts twice a week. Because I am so busy at the gym working, I sometimes split my workout up during the day. I might do half of my back routine in the morning and then hit the other half of the back at night. I like to perform six to nine sets of abs for the core in every workout. I rarely do the same exercises in the same order. I have staple exercises: I will always use some variation of deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench press (both incline and flat), bent-over rows and pull-ups. I seldom do less than 4 sets of an exercise for larger muscle groups. I like to use progressive poundage on the first 3 to 4 sets, and then finish with a high rep, strip set, or drop set, working down to lighter weight, preferably finishing with some forced reps administered by a really good training partner.”
“I perform Parrillo fascial stretching and flexing between my sets. On Saturday I will hit whatever body parts I did not get a chance to work during the week. I always take one weekend day off. I have had the opportunity to train with the Olympic-level track and field athletes and as a result of doing cardio with them I found that I get great results (for my legs) by adding interval drills into my training. For example, walking lunges can be done for 20 seconds followed by high knee kicks for 20 seconds then immediately perform squat walks for 20 seconds – this is followed by an easy jog for about a minute. I repeat this sequence three times. This is a fabulous aerobic format and can be used as a template to create your own 20-20-20 second/one minute jog cycle.”
4:15 AM: Parrillo Soft Chew Bar™ with coffee
6 AM: Oatmeal mixed with Parrillo Optimized Whey Protein™ powder, 1 tbsp of CapTri®
9:00 AM: Parrillo Soft Chew Bar™
11:00 AM: Veggies and rice fried up in CapTri®, 5 ounces of chicken or 5 egg whites
1:30 PM: Parrillo 50/50 Plus™ post-workout
2:00 PM: Yams, asparagus, tilapia, shark or halibut, 1 teaspoon of CapTri®
4:30 PM: Parrillo Soft Chew Bar™
7:00 PM: Parrillo Hi-Protein™ Shake, veggies and 1 tablespoon of CapTri®
9:00 PM: Broccoli and chicken sautéed in CapTri®
Muscle Amino™, Evening Primrose Oil™, Creatine Monohydrate, Parrillo vitamins and minerals, Advanced Lipotropic™ when getting ready for a competition.
“I use all the Parrillo products at some point during the year. I love Parrillo Liver Amino Formula™ and the new Soft Chew Bar™ is delicious; an amazing high protein/low calorie taste treat. I sometimes will have some strawberries or melon as a treat. I love butter flavored CapTri®. I make salad dressing out of the regular CapTri® flavor. I need the extra calories without having to be full all the time. I probably eat too many Parrillo Soft Chew Bars™. They are delicious. When I am not training for a competition I always allow myself one free day to go out to dinner and have butter on my potato or a filet. I think of my body as a race car and if I want it to perform optimally I have to use quality fuel.”
Last Minute Update: Kelly let us know she has qualified for the NPC Masters Nationals with a 2nd place win in Figure! Congratulations Kelly!
By Marty Gallagher
Benefits of Tai Chi and Other Balance and Joint Mobility Exercise
Tai Chi and balanced based exercise are effective exercises for health and well-being. Tai Chi can help a range of disorders including anxiety, arthritis, fatigue, joint stiffness and stress. Tai Chi can improve posture, flexibility and strength. People of all ages and fitness levels can practice Tai Chi and gain health benefits.
Tai Chi is one of the ‘soft’ martial arts developed by the ancient Chinese. It is practiced increasingly in the West as a means of stress management and exercise. Tai Chi is a series of slow, controlled movements or postures, sometimes practiced outdoors to take advantage of the surrounding energy of nature. Central to Tai Chi is the belief in the life essence/energy, or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), that flows through invisible channels or meridians in the body. When the flow of Qi is disrupted, illness is the result. The regular practice of Tai Chi is said to strengthen and improve Qi. According to scientific studies, Tai Chi is an effective healing tool for a range of disorders, particularly chronic (for example, arthritis and heart disease) and stress related conditions.
Tai Chi and Balance in Motion Classes can help to improve a range of disorders, including:
• Balance and coordination
• Joint stiffness
• Muscle tension
• Poor posture
Regular practice can increase flexibility and strength, and even improve cardiovascular fitness. The emphasis on correct posture means that Tai Chi can instill a greater awareness of the body and how it moves through space. Tai Chi is also prized as a form of meditation. By focusing exclusively on performing the body movements with grace and poise, the mind achieves a calm, empty clarity.
People of all ages and fitness levels can practice Tai Chi and gain health benefits. It is non-competitive and gentle. The ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy of some other forms of exercise has no place in Tai Chi; if it hurts, you’re trying too hard. The idea is to relax and enjoy the peaceful movement.
If you are over 40, overweight, suffering from a chronic illness or haven’t taken regular exercise in a long time, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting Tai Chi or any other exercise program.
Stay Active, Be healthy!
Kelly O’Brien C.P.T.
Warming Up Before Exercise: to Stretch or Not to Stretch
As a personal trainer, one of the most asked questions I receive is whether or not to stretch before a workout. I always respond with the question: what type of workout are you going to be doing? The type of warm-up you do mainly depends on the type of workout you are doing. Warming up correctly can be the difference between sustaining an injury or not. The key is to get the blood flowing to the area that you are going to be working. If you are going for a two mile run, walk or jog for five minutes to warm up. If you are going to do a chest workout, then active dynamic stretching around the shoulder joints is the answer.
A good rule of thumb is to warm the body up first for at least six minutes by walking or biking to bring up the body’s core temperature. This allows for the release of synovial fluid, the “WD40” of the joints. By warming up the body core temperature, whatever type of stretching you do will be more effective. Below are the most basic types of stretching, and the definitions of the type of stretch that occurs.
Active or Static stretching involves stretching the muscle actively. In other words, you are holding the stretched position with the opposing muscle group. You muscles are playing an active role in holding the stretch position. Holding the stretch anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds is recommended. Contrary to popular belief, you should not do static stretching before a workout, as your core temperature is not warmed up. Static stretching is, however, great for post-workout, when muscles are already warmed up.
Dynamic stretching is similar to active stretching. However, in dynamic stretching you don’t hold the stretch. You are always moving or dynamic. Dynamic stretching is not the best for improving flexibility. But it is good way to warm up for your sport and has shown to improve performance.
Propioreceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): You assume a stretch position, contract the target muscle for a few seconds, and then deepen the stretch position. This is usually repeated three times. This style of stretching can be a little risky if you don't know exactly how much tension to use, or how to breathe with the stretch. It's commonly practiced by sports massage therapists, physical therapists, or movement specialists. PNF yields greatest gains and is the fastest way known to improve the range of motion or flexibility. Recent studies have shown that there is nothing neural or propriorecptive about PNF and is due to an increase in stretch or pain tolerance. So forget the term “PNF”.
Ballistic: Bounce rapidly in and out of the stretch position. For example, reach down to touch your toes, forcing the movement until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings, and then repeat this movement several times. This style of stretching was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. (--And it should stay there.) I only added it to reiterate NOT to do this type of stretching.
Active Isolated (AI): Assume a stretch position, and then contract the opposing muscle for about two seconds. As you relax the opposing muscle, you gently stretch the target muscle for two to ten seconds.
In conclusion, flexibility is an important component of fitness. Remember that warming up before a workout is beneficial to athletic performance. Improving flexibility is a completely different topic, which I will be addressing in another article. Always remember to breathe while stretching and to stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain.
Dance Exhibitions and Art Featured at Open House
Kelly’s Fitness Plus & White Wolf Gym invites their members as well as the general public to their Open House and Grand Opening of Ladies Fit Express to be held the evening of the Art Cruise, Saturday, January 5th, 2013 between the hours of 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM.
There will be a variety of arts featured at the event. Tim Haines, an artist whose work is a mixture of abstract and impressionist, will be displaying some of his artwork. International dancer, Vito Skinner, will perform a Tango Dance Exhibition, and Kelly O’Brien, Professional Bodybuilder will be performing a bodybuilding dance exhibition.
Attendees can participate in the Zumba Cardio Party, starting at 5:30 PM, featuring certified Zumba and group exercise instructors. Information and demonstration of the new Ladies Fit Express hydraulic exercise equipment will be available, as well as free workshop sign-ups for new classes being offered at the facility.
At 8:00 PM there will be a Couples Dance workshop led by Vito Skinner. Pre- registration is requested. Prizes, Raffles, and Refreshments will be available as well.
Please call Kelly at 623-0014 for more information and/or times of Dance Exhibitions.
Exercise Reduces Stress and Depression!
Every month my goal is to motivate my readers to either begin or continue an exercise program. We all know how difficult it can be to maintain the habit of exercise, though once you get started, you just about always feel better. When I leave for the gym and really don’t want to go, my motto is: “ If I don’t feel better after the first ten minutes of my workout, I will allow myself to go home”. Well, I can honestly say, that in over 30 years of consistently working out, I can count on one hand the amount of times that has happened. I continue to exercise because I always feel better when I do.
Exercise, especially aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calmness. It has been proven to counter depression and dissipate stress. After just a few minutes of cardiovascular exercise, you will experience an “I can do this” attitude, as well as a feeling of accomplishment.
How can exercise contend with problems as difficult as anxiety and depression? There are several explanations, some chemical, others behavioral. The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neuro-chemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Behavioral factors contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline gets smaller and your strength and stamina increase, your self image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of pride and self confidence. Your renewed vigor will help you succeed in other areas of your life, and the discipline that you develop will help in making desired lifestyle changes. Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to enjoy solitude or to make friends and build your social circle.
It is recommended to be physically active everyday for these benefits. That doesn’t mean that you have to hit the gym daily to gain the benefits from exercise. Find ways that are enjoyable to you and provide variety. Results will happen sooner than you realize. You might even one day consider your fitness time as your sanctuary…knowing that you are going to feel better and reap the rewards not only as soon as you do it, but over time as well!
Stay Active, Be Healthy,
Kelly O’Brien C. P. T.
Starting your New Years Fitness Resolutions
Every January health clubs around the country typically enjoy a membership boost as eager souls sign up to make good on their New Year’s Resolution to get back in shape. If you haven’t been exercising lately, and your thinking about how great it is going to be to get started on your New Year Fitness Resolutions, now is the time to begin planning for it.
First of all, taking the time to check out fitness centers in your area during December can help you make the best choice in facilities. Not only will you be able to set up complimentary consultations with trainers during this lull in the fitness industry, you usually will get a better rate if you sign up before the New Year Rush!
Time and time again, enthusiastic newcomers jump into a new fitness routine whole heartedly only to wind up burnt our, possibly injured and finding themselves “sitting on the bench” wondering why it didn’t work this time.
As with any new activity, it is essential to take the proper precautions before starting. Meeting with an experienced personal trainer to put together a fitness program that fits your needs is essential. Working out at your own pace, properly warming up and cooling down, listening to your body and not overdoing it, wearing proper attire and knowing how to use the fitness equipment properly will result in a successful outcome.
These tips will help you decrease the likelihood of getting injured and increase the chances of a happily fulfilled New Year’s Resolution.
1. Check with your doctor first to make sure you’re ready for an exercise program.
2. Start slow, and build on it. Don’t start just trying to do five days a week for two hours. 30 minutes, three times a week is enough when you are just starting or getting back to an exercise program.
3. Don’t ignore pain. Feeling soreness or slight muscular pain is normal the day after a workout is normal. Feeling pain during a workout is not.
4. Treat your body right. Be sure to eat well, stay hydrated and get enough sleep.
5. Warm up first, then stretch. Be sure to warm up for at least 8 minutes so that your core temperature is up and muscles are warm. Stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.
6. Cool Down and Stretch. End your workouts with a cool down and stretch. This allow you to stay flexible and to keep the blood pooling in the muscles, which can increase soreness.
7. Mix it up. Doing the same workout each time can lead to boredom and injury.
8. Find a buddy, or hire a personal trainer. Motivation and support can do wonders for the success of your fitness goals. Group exercise is also a great way to stay accountable.
9. Make it Fun! Try different modes of exercise. You may find you really enjoy taking a group exercise class, or trying a new type of cardio equipment. Getting in shape can be accomplished by all sorts of activities, dancing, walking, hiking, etc.
Local Fitness Center Owner Brings Home the Gold for the 2nd Year
Kelly O’Brien, owner of Kelly’s Fitness Plus & White Wolf Gym competed this last weekend in Reno, Nevada, in the world’s most prestigious Bodybuilding & Physique Championship, The Natural Olympia. The Natural Olympia boasts over 1500 athletes competing from over 40 countries. All athletes are required to be drug tested for sports enhancing drugs.
Kelly won the Gold in the Grand Master’s Physique division last year, and was able to win the title this year as well. The Physique division is the same as bodybuilding, except for the physique division focuses on the symmetry of the physique, and balance. A 90 second dance routine is also required.
Kelly is excited to get back to the gym and her clients November 26th, as she will be implementing the “Stay Fit for the Holidays” program for clients to keep the pounds off during the holidays. “The average weight gain in our country over the holidays is eight pounds, so we want people in the community to get the jump now on their fitness goals.” The program includes Boot Camps, Open Group Exercise Classes, and small group personal training as well as membership at the gym. It also includes a weekly weight management class.
Both the staff and the clients at the gym are thrilled about the completely new central heating and air-conditioning system recently installed by Dick and Sandy Morris, which will provide an even better workout experience. Stop by and check out the newly renovated system at Kelly’s Fitness Plus, or call 623-0014 to find out more about the “Stay Fit for the Holidays” fitness program.
By Michelle Manning
Ladies Fit Express Opens at Kelly's Fitness Plus
Kelly’s Fitness Plus at White Wolf Gym announces the opening of their new fitness program, “Ladies Fit Express”! This aerobic, resistance training program consists of 12 hydraulic exercise machines designed to fit women and provide constant hydraulic resistance throughout the range of motion of each exercise. Between each exercise machine there is a non impact board for aerobic dance and/or calisthenics. Not only is this equipment easy to use, it is fun! Music is provided in one minute intervals to let the clients know when to change stations. During certain hours, an instructor encourages and explains proper technique to insure safety and results. Zumba, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Jazzaerobics, as well as other weight training classes are also available.
Each client who is interested in joining meets with a personal trainer to go over their health and fitness history, have their assessments taken, and go over any orthopedic issues that may affect them in their exercise program. Call Kelly at Kelly’s Fitness Plus to set up a complimentary consultation for the new Ladies Fit Express! 623-0014.
First Annual Trinity County Health and Safety Fair on June 15th offers activities, entertainment and giveaways!
On June 15, the First Annual Trinity County Health and Safety Fair will feature more than 20 booths, entertainment and giveaways.
The Fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kelly’s Fitness Plus & White Wolf Gym in downtown Weaverville at 115 Forest Ave. There will be outside booths as well as booths inside of the fitness center.
Participants include medical professionals, chiropractors, massage therapists, nutritionists, dentists, hearing specialists, as well as safety specialists from the Forest Service and the local California Highway Patrol. There will be free blood sugar and lipid testing, body composition testing, as well as chiropractic screenings. The Human Response Network will be providing information on all aspects of health as well.
There will be fitness and safety demonstrations, including Zumba, youth gymnastics and bicycle trials riding. The campground safety booth will be giving away a delicious sample of “smorses” with recipe. The Trinity Community band will be playing from 6 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Don’t miss the fun!
For more information, contact Kelly O’Brien, 530- 623-0014 or Schirete Zick, 775-385-4023.
Local gym awards five hundred in cash to Fit Point winners
What a great way to stay motivated! Find a fitness center who is willing to pay you to work out, keep a food journal, try new classes, use nutritional supplements and bring others to get into the healthy lifestyle too. That’s exactly what Bo Anna Gorsuch and Jeanetta Dillon did. Not only did they get in better shape, they tied and ended up dividing the $500.00 cash prize that Kelly’s Fitness Plus and White Wolf Gym were offering to the winner of the Fit Point Rewards six month Challenge!
Getting fit and healthy should be reward enough in itself to stay on an exercise program. Unfortunately, that most often is not the case. Setting fitness goals with a time frame can make the difference between being successful at your exercise endeavors. First of all, sit down and figure out your priorities. Where does health and fitness fit in for you? How many hours a week are you able to fit into your busy life for exercise? Be realistic, or you could be setting yourself up for failure. Remember that three to five hours a week of exercise can make the difference in your overall longevity and quality of life. American College of Sports Medicine states that as little as two sessions (20 to 40 minutes) of resistance training can make a significant difference in maintaining and building bone density and lean muscle tissue. They also recommend three to five days a week (20 to 60 minutes) of cardiovascular aerobic training for your heart and pulmonary system. So, if you add it up, if you can commit as little time as three hours of your 168 hours you have a week to exercise, you will reap the benefits.
So don’t wait to get in shape. Set your goals realistically. Start slow, and be consistent, and you will have more energy, feel better and be stronger in no time!