Monday, August 23, 2010

Setting Goals & Staying Focused

Setting Goals & Staying Focused
By Beth H : Woodstock's Fit Body Bootcamper

I've always considered myself fairly healthy. While never an “exercise junkie,” I've always been active and aware of my diet – I rarely eat meat and try to watch what I eat.

In my teens and 20s, during the Flashdance! Generation, high-impact, knee-pounding exercise was all the rage... complete with cropped t-shirt, headband and matching scrunchie and leg-warmers. (What were we THINKING?)

In my 30s, with two small children running around, toddler-chasing was my primary form of “exercise,” although I'd load the kids up in the stroller a few nights each week and tackle the hills in my subdivision. Charity walks were my big thing during that time as well, and I felt good to walk-run a 5k and claim my t-shirt at the finish line.

At 40 I realized that the health issues I'd started developing – stress, hypertension, stiff joints and insomnia – weren't necessarily age-related. They were a direct result of my lack of a regular exercise regimen. I didn't want the “middle-age spread,” which I noticed with alarming regularity in my peer group in the carpool line or at the grocery store. I also realized that my clothing size had slowly crept upward and I was now wearing double-digits in pants... not good!

So I started walking regularly. My dog loved it, I met the neighbors and I started feeling better about myself. But my weight wasn't changing and my waist size wouldn't budge. I accepted that I was middle-aged and that I had attained a new “set-point.” (Amazing what we tell ourselves!)

I was at a women's networking event one evening and won a month's trial of a new fitness regimen that I'd been hearing so much about: FitBody Boot Camp. This Boot Camp was indoors! I thought, “I can do anything for a month,” and I designated the next 30 days as my fitness do-or-die time, setting the alarm for 5:15 a.m. and commuting to the gymnastics facility to work out with my new peer group.

Although the workouts were very difficult at first, I was hooked. After just a week, I felt stronger than I had in a very long time, and inches were coming off. I hadn't lost an ounce of weight, but I was standing up straighter, I had more energy and I was sleeping better. So I decided to continue.

After two months, I had finally lost weight – more than 11 pounds! And my body looked good. My double-digit clothing was now too big, and I retrieved the old Size 8's from the back of my closet.

In March, I ran another 5k – and this time I ran the whole time! So I set my sights on a huge goal: running the Peachtree Road Race.

Over the next several months, I participated in FitBody Boot Camp three or four (sometimes five) days each week, and felt a huge difference in my overall wellness. My blood pressure dropped to what it was prior to my having kids and I had lost nearly 20 pounds; I felt calmer, experienced less stiffness and slept better than I had in years! And by the time 5:15 rolled around each day, I was “raring to go!”

I turned 44 on the 4th of July, and I gave myself the most incredible gift: running my first Peachtree Road Race. What a party! I told myself that I would just run the best I could, walk if I had to up the hills (never stop running when you're going downhill! It's a personal rule!) and make it to the finish line smiling. Well, I ran the whole 6.2 – and I was smiling as I crossed the finish line!

Nothing can compare to attaining a goal like that. The pride, the energy, the congratulations from family and friends! I'm recruiting folks to run with me next year – and I'm grateful for the group of us from FitBody Boot Camp-Woodstock who ran together this year.

My goal when I started my fitness regimen was to increase my stamina enough to run a 5k, then the Peachtree. My new goal is to be as healthy and active in my 60s and 70s as I am today. I'm laying the groundwork now, and I realize that a daily workout commitment is key to helping me attain my goals.

I know folks who work out at home, others who go to a big-box gym, and some who prefer to do like I do and attend Boot Camp or work out in a small group or with a personal trainer (Stacy does that too, by the way!). Whatever your preference, make sure it's something you enjoy. You'll experience better results and come up with fewer excuses!

Beth H.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mean & Clean Burrito

Mean & Clean Burrito
Here's a healthy burrito recipe to sink your teeth into. Whole grains, lean protein and crunchy veggies make this a recipe that you'll come back to time and again. Serve with a side of your favorite salsa.
Servings: 1

Here's what you need...

•1 sprouted grain, flourless tortilla
•1 Tablespoon hummus
•1/3 cup cooked brown rice
•1/4 cup cooked black beans
•1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped (or baked tofu)
•2 Tablespoons fresh corn kernels
•2 Tablespoons chopped cucumber
•1/4 cup shredded arugula
•3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1.Warm the tortilla in a dry skillet. Spread the hummus evenly over the tortilla.
2.Top the tortilla with rice, beans, chicken and veggies.
3.Fold the two sides of the tortilla in over the filling, then flip up the bottom edge and roll tightly.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 380 calories, 7.8g fat, 45g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, and 31g protein.

Burn Fat Faster

Tactics for Faster Results
Have you ever been frustrated over a lack of results from your workout routine?

If so, you are in good company. Even the most seasoned athletes experience times when their results plateau.

When you continue to put in the same effort day after day with little or no results it is safe to say that you've hit your own fitness plateau.

Your body adapts quickly to any repetitive routine. The definition of 'insanity' is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results. This holds true for your workouts. When your results stop then it's time to do something new.

I have good news - the following 4 tactics are guaranteed to crank your workouts up to the next level and to deliver the fast results you want.

Tactic #1: Focus on Negatives

Each time that you do a weight lifting repetition you are utilizing three types of strength. These are:

1.Positive strength: the motion of lifting the weight.
2.Static strength: holding weight in a contracted position.
3.Negative strength: the motion of lowering the weight.
Most people completely miss the benefit of the negative in each repetition by allowing the weight to drop quickly with little control. It is understood that the negative portion of a repetition is just as important as the positive portion, and possibly more important.

Focus on the negative portion of each repetition by lowering the weight very slowly. Concentrate on the negative contraction, and make each repetition count.

If you are advanced, then use a training partner to assist you in moving heavier-than-normal weight into a contracted position, then lower it very slowly.

Another way to utilize negative repetitions on a machine is to lift the weight using two limbs but then lower it with just one. For example, use both legs to lift the weight on a leg extension machine, but then lower it back down slowly using only one leg.

Tactic #2: Do a Drop Set

Drop sets have long been used to fight off exercise plateaus. This technique is great for adding muscle strength, endurance and for increasing the cardiovascular benefit of your workout – resulting in more fat burn.

Here, in a nutshell, is how to do a drop set: When you perform an exercise to exhaustion, don't stop there. Drop the weight by 80% and do another set.

You could take it a step further by dropping the weight twice, making it a double drop. Or drop the weight three times for a descending drop set.

Use this technique only once or twice per workout, on the final set of the exercise.

Tactic #3: Modify the Exercise

There are certain exercises that are considered 'staples' in the gym.

The squat. The lunge. The chest press. The shoulder press. The bicep curl. You get the idea…

While you shouldn't throw these exercises out the window, find creative ways to modify the familiar motion in order to challenge your muscles. Try these exercise modifications:

•Squat on a Bosu ball or balance board.
•Place a weighted bar across your shoulders and do walking lunges.
•Use an exercise ball for chest presses instead of the bench.
•Do a full squat between each repetition of shoulder presses.
•Do a shoulder press between each repetition of bicep curls.
Tactic #4: Use Active Rest to turn each workout into High Intensity Interval Training

Every minute of your workout is an opportunity to increase intensity and to burn more fat. Don't waste precious minutes with long rest periods between exercises.

While it is important to catch your breath if you feel winded, most of the time you would benefit more from an active rest than a passive one. Perform one of the following activities for 30 seconds between exercises and turn your regular workout into High Intensity Interval Training.

•High Knees with Alternating Punches: Alternately bring each knee high to your chest in a quick jumping movement while alternating forward punches at shoulder level.
•Burpees: Start in a sanding position and bend at the waist. Once your hands hit the floor, push your entire body back, extending your legs until they're straight and you're in the push-up position. Go down for a push-up, and when you push yourself up, jump slightly to bring your feet back near your hands. Finally, jump in the air with your arms fully extended over your head.
•Side-to-Side Jumps on Bench: Stand on one side of an exercise bench. Place the foot closest up onto the bench, jump up and switch feet, then land on the opposite side of the bench.
•Mountain Climbers: Place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground in a push-up position. Bring one knee to your chest and then back to the starting position, alternate each leg quickly.
•Side-to-Side Ab Twists: With feet close together, jump and twist your legs left to right – holding your abs tight. Keep a bend in your knees and swing your upper arms with each twist.
•Jump Lunges with Pop Squat: Start in a lunge position, lunge down then quickly jump up, switching your leg position in midair, land in an opposite leg lunge. Once you've done both legs, jump straight into a squat.
•Medicine Ball Squat Jumps: With feet wider than shoulder-width apart hold a medicine ball at chest level. Squat down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Explosively jump up, raising the medicine ball straight over your head.
If you'd like a sure-fire way to break through your fitness plateau and to melt away unwanted fat, then contact me for a fitness consultation.

Call or email today – I look forward to hearing from you.