Friday, August 31, 2012

It is Time to "Pump, You Up!"

So far we have added water, movement and vegetables.  Now I want to add strength training.  When I started going to the gym, I would go to boot camp or run on the treadmill, use the stair climber or do a spin class but the thought of going into the weight area terrified me.  I had always lifted weights in high school, through college and even at Palmer but now I could not bring myself to do it!  I really felt intimidated to go into an area with all those muscles, men and women!  Well when I finally got the nerve to go into the area I found out that nobody laughed or pointed and they are actually all quite helpful.

We have all heard that muscle weighs more than fat, but do you know that muscle burns fat faster?  A lot of you are probably thinking, I don't want bulky muscles.  Great, neither do I!  I want you to work on toning or defining the muscle.  If you have never done strength training, I would highly recommend working with a personal trainer.  Most personal trainers have very affordable fees.  You can always go to the trainer once a week where they will customize a plan for you to work on that week.  If you go to a gym, you may want to look into a group power class or a conditioning class. If that is not possible, there are a lot of resources, such as books, magazines and DVD, to help you find more exercises.  Please understand, these recommendations are from my own personal experience - I am not a personal trainer.  I am going to give a few examples and suggestions for each body area. The book I am referencing from is The 100 Year Lifestyle Workout.

There are five areas to target; arms, back, chest, legs and core.  When working these areas you can use free weights, machines, resistance bands or you own body weight.  Find a weight that allows you to do 12-15 repetitions with the last 2-3 requiring some extra effort and I recommend performing 2-3 sets of each exercise.  Aim to do strength training 2-3 times a week.


  • Bicep Curls
  • Tricep Dips - can be done on the end of the couch, the front of a stable chair or the side of the bed.  
  • Front Shoulder Raise
  • Side Shoulder Raise
  • Shoulder Overhead Press
  • Push-ups - can be done with knees on the floor or or against a wall.  If you are in excellent shape, you can add more resistance by doing a decline push-up with the feet elevated
  • Lat Rows
  • Chin-ups - you can have a friend or significant other support your legs to reduce the resistance to start
  • Squats - can be done while holding dumbbells, with a barbell on shoulders or just with your body weight
  • Lunges
  • Plank - Lay down in a push-up position with your body weight resting on your toes and forearms.  Stiffen your body and raise your torso off the ground with your abs pulled in tight and pull your belly button toward your spine.  Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  • Side Plank
  • Floor Bridge
  • "Supermans"
You will be sore after your first workout.  You may even feel like a bus hit you!  Soreness is good but pain is not, so if you are experiencing pain you need to stop and consult a personal trainer to make sure you are lifting properly.  If the pain persists, consult a chiropractor who will evaluate your spine, nervous system and extremities for problems.  Don't feel intimidated and go for it!  I can guarantee you will feel great afterwards, well...after the initial soreness wears off!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Veggies for Breakfast

When we start talking about diet what is the first thing that comes to mind, starvation and restriction, right?  When I look at changing my eating patterns I always think about the things I can't or shouldn't have.  But I want you to again think about adding food and not taking away everything at once.  What is the one food group that you can eat a lot of and not worry about over consuming and actually most of us don't even hit the daily recommended intake?  Vegetables!  The recommended servings of vegetables is 6-10 servings a day.  How many of us really achieve that number daily.  I really like vegetables but I think I am still short every day.

To really get your vegetables you should include one with your breakfast which really isn't bad depending on what you are having that day.  If I eat eggs I really like to have broccoli or a salad with it but if I have yogurt or cereal not really my side dish of choice.  Look at ways you can add the vegetables into your diet and soon you will be replacing other foods with the vegetables.  If you are having a sandwich for lunch add lettuce, tomato, cucumber and alfalfa sprouts.  Or instead of having a sandwich, have a salad with a meat or bean protein on top.  Replace the potato side dish with another vegetable.  Contrary to what most of us were taught, potatoes and corn are not really vegetables.  They are starches so they should be put in that category when planning our meals.

Vegetables in the raw form are generally the best as far as higher nutritional value but cooked is great also.  I recommend staying away from the canned vegetables as much as possible.  There are days my littlest girls will fight me on their vegetables at lunch.  I don't mind giving them salad dressing if it means they will eat their vegetables.  I know we can slowly remove the dressing with time.  For me, the biggest pain with eating raw vegetables is cleaning and cutting them.  So I cut all my vegetables along with a big salad every Monday (that is my day off) so I have no excuses the rest of the week.

Every Thursday I plan my meals for the following week.  If I have a crazy night with activities and work, I make sure that meal will fit our schedule.  I work until 6pm on Tuesdays and occasionally Thursdays so who wants to cook then?  I make sure the meal is simple enough so Erik can cook or I have something in the slow cooker (great for fall and winter).  This eliminates the dining out which leaves very few healthy options.  I also pack my lunch for work the night before.  If I do it in the morning I am always running late and decide to just pick something up for lunch.  There are still nights with all the planning that we just don't want what was on the menu or we are both too tired to cook so pick up happens.  Just try to make wise food choices and maybe eat more slowly so you will consume less food (stomach has more time to signal the brain that it is full).

Food can truly be a battle and the pitfall for our weight loss.  I can have a bad day of food choices but the next day stay on target.  Just try to be conscious about your food selections and don't beat yourself up if you have one bad day. There is so much more I can say about nutrition but instead of restricting yourself start to add the vegetables.  Over time, healthy food choices will become easier.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Like to Move It, Move It!

A couple more comments about water.  There are sources that say you need very little water because you can get water from your food.  This is true as long as you are eating your daily servings of fresh fruit and vegetables but if you are consuming processed food you get less.  Drinking a big glass of water 30 minutes before a meal helps "fill" your stomach so you may be less likely to engulf your food and overeat.  Also, I have heard it said that hunger may actually be a sign of thirst.

On to the second topic of achieving your healthy size - Exercise.   I used to really despise that word and there are mornings when I still do. So from now on I want you to start thinking about increasing your movement.   I am just as guilty as the rest of you that when a new year starts, I resolve to exercise more often so I start out with a 60 minute training video that is really intense.  By the end of the workout, I am tired, sore and discouraged because I felt completely out of shape.  I know that one of the biggest reasons I started to gain weight is that I decreased the amount of time I spent at the gym but did not decrease my calories.

If you currently don't move, get moving!  If you are used to driving around to find a close parking spot, park farther away.  If you have a desk job, step outside for a quick loop around the parking lot.  If you are drinking all the water you should, you will probably be making more trips to the bathroom.  Make a few extra trips up and down the stairs instead of loading yourself up with everything you can possibly carry.  Find a friend and go for a 20-30 minute talk walk 3 times a week or go for a bike ride (it goes by much faster and if you walk as fast as you talk, even better).  I have found that when I have a buddy to exercise with, I am more likely to go because someone else is counting on me.  If it wasn't for my running friends, I would have been done a long time ago!

If you currently exercise you may need to increase the amount of time or the number of times you work out in a week.  Changing your workout routine is also a good way to ignite the metabolism as you begin working muscles differently.  Eventually, aim for 30 minutes a day for 5 times a week, but in the beginning just think about increasing your movement!  Start small and add more activity as you feel better and began to enjoy the workout.  I started by walking 3 times a week and then slowly increased the amount of time and than went from a walk to a jog to a run.  Remember, not everyone is a runner so do something you enjoy!  The reason I focus on movement first and nutrition second is that when you start to move you begin feeling better.   As you feel better you become more aware of what and how much you are eating.  Again, we are not taking anything away just adding.  Have fun this week and add some movement!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The dreaded "D" word - Diet

I have something to admit - I have gained 10lbs in the past year and almost 7lbs in the past 5 months alone! The more weight I gain, the more depressed I get and the less enthusiastic I am to work out, which means I gain even more weight!  It is a terrible cycle to be on and even harder to break.  So what do I do to lose the weight?  Well my first thought is, "What miracle diet can I try now?".  I have probably tried them all.  While driving through Omaha I saw at least 3 billboards advertising the weight loss cure.  One was laser therapy, another was a nutrition pill and the last and best (I think anyway) was to freeze the fat away!  The only problem is that every time I go on a diet I feel deprived and even more depressed.    Dr. Erik reminds me that the word "die" is in die,t so not a great word to use.  This time I have decided to commit to the old fashioned way of losing weight, healthy eating and exercise.
The first thing  I am going to do is to eliminate the word diet!  When thinking about losing weight it is easier to start by adding things and not taking things away.  The first thing I would suggest is to increase your water intake.  We all think we drink a lot of water but if we measure our consumption for a day ,how much have we really taken in?  The old rule for water was 8 - 8 ounce glasses a day.  An average adult is composed of 57-60% water.  The more overweight we are the less water we have as the takes over.  The new rule for water intake is take your body weight divide it in half and drink that amount in ounces.  For example if you weigh 160lbs you should consume 80 ounces of water a day.  This should be in its purest form so soda, coffee and tea don't count!  The best way to do that is carry a water bottle with you or keep one at your desk and make sure you are filling it every 2-3 hours depending upon the size.  This will give you a more accurate insight to how much water you are actually taking in.
The next five weeks I will discuss my progress and give you a different health tip to help you effectively lose weight or reach your realistic size!  This week - commit to increase your water.