Category: Fitness

The Benefits of Berries

 

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Nature’s Candy

The benefits of berries are extensive. Berries offer super nutrition disguised as nature’s candy.  I  watched the blackberry bushes when I was a child with great anticipation. I braved rattlesnakes and wasps to pick those berries! The sun would be hot but my mom’s kitchen was cool as I proudly deposited my treasure onto the kitchen table. However, the sweet juiciness of those berries was only a small part of their appeal.

Photo by Mario Mendez on Unsplash

Fiber Rich

Berries are an excellent source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Since soluble fiber slows food down as it passes through your digestive tract, you stay full longer. One study indicated that doubling your fiber may result in eating about 130 calories less per day. (1) This could result in losing about a pound every month.

Low carbohydrates are one of the benefits of berries. Net carbs are the grams of carbohydrates in a food minus the fiber that it contains. Since the Net Carbs are the only carbs that are digested, they are the carbs we count. Blueberries contain 14.5 grams of carbs and 2.4 of fiber or 12.1 grams of Net Carbs per 100 grams. Strawberries have 7.7 grams of carbs with 2 grams of fiber or 5.7 grams of Net Carbs. Blackberries are higher in fiber at 5.3 grams and have 4.9 grams of Net Carbs. The fiber king is raspberries, having 6.5 grams and only 5.4 grams of Net Carbs. Because berries are sweet and satisfying they are a natural dessert alternative with very low Net Carbs.

 Benefits of Berries Include Taste!

Berries can make even plain food special. I love to add partially thawed, frozen berries to plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. I add Splenda to taste and I have a rich, decadent dessert. Fresh blackberries on top of oatmeal and sprinkled with Splenda make a filling, sweet breakfast. Cottage cheese can be bland. Add blueberries and your 0 calorie sweetener of choice for a nutritious, delightful snack. Berries pair very well with many good protein sources. Read David’s article Pragmatic View On Protein for guidelines on protein.

Various Benefits of Berries

There is evidence that berries may help improve blood sugar levels when they are eaten with high carbohydrate foods that usually raise blood sugar. Since the fiber in berries slows absorption of the carbs, blood sugar is more stable. Berries are also rich in antioxidants which may help protect you from free radical damage and improve the appearance of your skin. They are highly nutritious with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Berries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation is the beginning of most diseases, including most cancers, berries could replace the apple in “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Now that’s good medicine!

Cancer and Nutrition

(1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries

Making the Most Out of Exercise

woman exercising for health and fitness

Obviously, exercise is an important part of a weight loss journey, but are you going to do it? If you are the type who views exercise as a chore to get through, you have already placed yourself at a disadvantage.

So, how do you change that mind set?

You simply should find an exercise that you can do, and also one that you will enjoy. Otherwise, you will never stick with it if you find no sense of enjoyment while trying to perform an exercise regimen that might be beyond your current capabilities. Never lose sight that the best exercise is the one you will do, the one that brings satisfaction to you. Never mind what others believe the best form of exercise might be. Their opinion carries little significance if what they view as the best is of no interest to you, or you might not be capable of doing it. You need to know that if you are not capable of doing an exercise, your mind might demand that you do the exercise. However, your body will eventually exercise it’s veto power.

You simply will not stay at something that is too tough.

You will not stick with something that is just too difficult for your level of fitness.

Many people select a workout based on a means-to-an-end quotient of the goal they want to achieve. This is a valid thought process to be sure, but a better way to choose the best exercise is to take an honest assessment of yourself and what is going to nourish your body the best over the long run. The bottom line with exercise is that it should be like a great life partner. Not an adversarial relationship, but a complementary one. To choose the best exercise program for you, look closely at your personality traits and find a way to move your body that mirrors that.

Pick an exercise that you will enjoy.

This cannot be said enough. If an exercise bores you to tears, you are not likely to stick with it. When an exercise brings too much pain for your level of tolerance, it is not going to be a good fit for you. You need to start lightly, and then work your way up. In fact, I always recommend those who are new to exercise to begin easier than they believe necessary, and work their way to higher intensity levels.

Pick more than one type of exercise.  

By doing different exercise sessions you will add variety, and by working different muscles on different days, it will help reduce the risk of injury, as well as preventing monotony.

Vary the intensity of your exercise.

If you are new to exercise, go a little harder on some days, and then a little easier on others. When you go all out with high intensity with every exercise session, you will only burn out sometime in the near future. A variety of intensity will help you to avoid injury and will allow your muscles time to recover from hard work.

Choose exercise that fits your lifestyle.

While we teach people to create a new lifestyle for themselves to create a fitter and healthier version of themselves, there are some things that must still be taken into consideration such as children and jobs. Therefore, it will do you absolutely no good to choose an exercise that will not fit into your schedule. I would encourage you to find a way, it is almost always possible. However, it does no good to sign up for a exercise class at 9:00 am when you must be at work or caring for your children at this time of day.

Join a class or social sports team.

You might enjoy the discipline of attending a regular class or course. You may also get great benefit by joining a social sports team such as softball for example. By doing either of these options, it will help you to exercise regularly. Community centers and adult education colleges often offer classes in activities such as dance, yoga or Pilates, as well as classes for the older exerciser. Personal trainers will offer a variety of group and individual sessions that can be matched to your needs.

Set aside a time for your daily exercise.

Setting aside a dedicated exercise time each day can help to turn regular exercise into a habit, much like washing your hair or making your bed. In this way, you’ll find you are less likely to ponder whether or not to go for a walk or run. Before you know it you’ll be out there pounding the pavement just because that’s what you do at that time of day! Equally, don’t be inflexible about exercise: if you do miss exercising at your preferred time, and the opportunity presents itself at another time during the day, take the opportunity and enjoy it.

Lastly, this is HUGE!

Pick an exercise that accommodates any health problems you may have!

If you are new to exercising, are overweight, or you have been inactive for a long time, have existing health problems, or old or recent muscle, bone or joint injuries, see your doctor before starting or re-commencing regular exercise. Being unwell or having an injury does not usually rule out exercise, in fact, it is often a vital part of rehabilitation. However, exercise in this context may mean you need to amend the details of your physical activity program, under guidance from your doctor or other healthcare professional.

For example, many people with asthma find they can achieve high levels of fitness through swimming, as the air they are breathing during this exercise is warm and moist and less likely than cold, dry air to trigger an asthma attack. Long-term conditions such as high blood pressure can be improved by appropriate amounts of daily exercise, while the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes or osteoporosis can be reduced. People with arthritis are often suited to exercising in a swimming pool as the buoyancy of the water avoids weight-bearing stress being placed on inflamed joints. Weak upper leg muscles and poor balance in some older people can mean that a recumbent stationary bicycle is particularly suited to encouraging exercise without causing discomfort or risking injury.

Whichever exercise options you choose, and whichever strategies you use to keep motivated, remember to start off slowly and build up gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast: progression in fitness occurs over weeks and months, not days.

Out Exercise a Bad Diet? You’re Funny

 

Lumen Metabolism Tracker Review

Have you seen the Lumen Metabolism Tracker and thought it might be something that would come in handy with your weight loss journey? Do you have an extra $300 US to burn on useless gimmicks that promise to help you optimize your metabolism for fat burning? If you are like most people during this age of the Covid-19 pandemic, you probably don’t.

Scientifically, I am sure this gimmick works as advertised. However…

this is not going to get you to your goals in weight loss!

Yes, you can control your metabolism to a small degree by losing weight and gaining lean muscle mass. You do have some control over your metabolism by making small lifestyle changes by watching what, and how much you eat and exercise. But unless you are doing these things this tracker is NOT going to help you change your metabolism. Additionally, you need to know that any changes you do make to your metabolism are not going to be huge, and the changes will not be enough to allow you to consume as much food as you might desire.

I maintain a very lean body through my nutrition, hard work, and regular exercise that includes  8 hours of strength training and about 3 hours of cardiovascular training each week. You might think just by looking at me that I have a high metabolism, but what you cannot see is the fact I actually do not have a high metabolism. I consume an average of 2,270 calories a day to maintain my current level of body fat and weight. If I increase this by 500 calories per day, I will gain fat on 2,770 calories per day. I know this with absolute certainty simply because I have tried to increase my caloric intake to see what happens. For someone with a very physical job, and who exercises religiously, I have a low metabolism that I cannot manipulate to any great, long lasting degree.

Let me tell you a simple and blunt truth. If you are struggling with your weight and appetite, knowing what your body is burning for energy is not going to help you in any way, shape or form. If you are not struggling with your weight or appetite, this information is not even going to be relevant to you. You have to be willing to make permanent lifestyle choices in order to take off those extra pounds and to be successful at keeping them off. You do not need any gimmicky devices to do this. In order to lose weight, you must have a caloric deficit, meaning that you either must reduce your caloric intake below your total daily energy expenditure or increase your total daily energy expenditure through physical activity.

No matter your body type, the number of calories you need just for your body to function is called your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. If you know your BMR, you can better determine your caloric needs for healthy weight loss.

You burn most of your daily calories with zero effort, movement, or even thinking. Whether you’re sleeping, talking on the phone, working at a keyboard, or simply watching TV, your body is burning calories to keep your organs functioning such as your heart pumping and your lungs breathing. The calories used to maintain these basic bodily functions add up to your BMR.

BMR is one of many factors in the total number of calories you burn in a given day, also called your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). It accounts for roughly 65 to 70 percent of your TDEE, which is determined by genetics, biological sex, age, body size, and lean body mass. While many people blame a slow metabolism (they mean BMR) on weight gain, it’s actually true that increases in body size result in an increase in BMR. The bigger you are, the more calories you are going to need to maintain your weight. The thing is, this is true no matter if you are morbidly obese or muscle bound with little fat. The process to lose body fat is the same for the morbidly obese as it is for one who is just a little over weight. Both individuals will need to reduce their daily caloric intake by 500 in order to lose 1 pound of body fat per week. This can be done by reducing your food intake, or through exercise, or a combination of these two factors.

At rest, a pound of fat burns roughly two calories per day and a pound of muscle burns roughly six calories, however there are a few things you must realize about this. One of the things people do not consider about metabolism is how active a person is, even when they are at rest affects how much they can consume. Fidgety people are constantly moving their body in some manner. Some people are constantly moving during the day, while some are perfectly capable of sitting still while relaxing. The point is, unless you are naturally fidgety, or one to be moving all the time, odds are, you will not become that type of individual just because it will help you to increase your metabolism in order to keep the pounds off of your body. Trying to boost your metabolism probably won’t lead to weight loss, at least not to the degree that changing your diet and lifestyle habits will.

How much you weigh depends on the choices you make about food and how much physical activity you get.

To lose weight, focus on the factors you can control.

  • Calories. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. There are several ways to reduce the number of calories you eat, including reducing portion sizes; eliminating added sugars and saturated and trans fats. Begin choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats instead of processed foods for your daily nutrition. And keep in mind that as you age, you may need to eat even fewer calories. This is because the amount of muscle you have tends to decrease as you get older. Your muscle mass affects how many calories you need because muscle tissue burns calories, even at rest. So having less muscle decreases your calorie needs by decreasing your basal metabolic rate, while having more muscle increases your calorie needs by increasing your basal metabolic rate.
  • Activity. Exercise helps you burn calories, and build and maintain muscle mass. Any physical activity is better than none. Start slow, and gradually work your way up to incorporating both aerobic exercise and strength training into your routine.

Follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we can help you to learn all that you need to know about successful weight loss and management.

As with any new lifestyle change that includes diet and exercise, be sure to consult your physician before doing so.

Losing IQ Points, Fat Freezing Belt Review

Have you ever felt dumber just by reading something that got your attention? I’m reasonably sure I lost a few IQ points by checking out this advertisement for the Fat Freezing Belt.

Look, I will admit to not being a rocket scientist, nor an astrophysicist, but I do have a pretty good knowledge of nutrition, physical fitness and how to successfully and permanently remove body fat. And I guarantee you, this stupid belt is not going to do it for you. I am still trying to cypher which is the bigger con, magic powders that promise to increase your metabolism, or this damn belt. It is pretty much a  coin toss when it comes to how ludicrous these things are.

How this belt allegedly works.

They have ice packs that you place in your freezer until they are completely frozen, then you place these ice packs in the belt and put it on your body. If you really want to try this for yourself before buying one of these worthless belts, simply make a few ice packs to wear from things you already have in your freezer. Notice how they are vague in answering the question?

Typically, spot reduction of fat is not possible. However, if you have a medical procedure that will actually do this, you should consider that your overall body fat is still going to be an issue for you. For instance, if you are working on a little tummy bulge, is it going to help your appearance to also neglect your butt?

 While it is true there has been some buzz about procedures called CoolScultping, or cryolipolysis, this product which basically claims to do the same thing is not the same thing when you are attempting to freeze your body fat at home with ice packs in a belt. What you need to know is that if you are more than a little bit over weight, this procedure is not for you. The ideal candidate is already close to their ideal body weight, but has stubborn, pinchable areas of fat that are difficult to get rid of with diet and exercise alone. Cryolipolysis also doesn’t target visceral fat, so it won’t improve your overall health, and neither will this “Fat Freezing” belt.  At best, this product might be something a professional bodybuilder might find limited use from. But face it, most people are not pro bodybuilders, and have far too much bodyfat for this waste of money to be of any use.

Attempting CoolSculpting at home is not only ineffective, but also potentially dangerous. Do it yourself cryolipolysis often involves ice cubes or other frozen materials in an effort to freeze fat cells. However, applying ice packs at home leaves you with the risk of only freezing your skin and doesn’t get rid of any fat cells. Seriously, if you want to know if cryolipolysis is right for you, go see a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for a free consultation. It’s also important to note that this procedure isn’t a substitute for healthy lifestyle habits. Cryolipolysis only gets rid of targeted areas of fat that haven’t responded to diet and exercise.

Water Exercise

Benefits of Swimming

Swimming is a full-body, no impact workout that almost everyone can do. It’s great for relaxation and mood enhancement and torches calories at about 225 for 30 minutes for a 155 pound person. (1) That can be more depending on the stroke that you use. Swimming is easy on the bones and joints and is one of few activities where you can get a great workout without being aware of sweating or being hot. It also boosts your energy levels by boosting your metabolic rate if you swim only 30 minutes, 3 times per week. (2)

My Happy Place!

I remember when I was a child, growing up in rural Alabama on a chirt road, swimming was the illusive summer joy that I rarely had the opportunity to enjoy. Every summer we went to Panama City Beach and my daddy would try to teach me to swim in the Gulf of Mexico. That was almost impossible! The waves were strong and frequent and I was forever getting a face-full of salty water in my eyes, nose and throat. I would fight him endlessly and he would finally give up for the day, tired, sunburned and salty. Even so, those vacations were paradise!

Local 

Other people in the community where we lived  would go to local creeks for a dip on a hot summer day but we did not. Occasionally you would hear of someone being bitten by a Cottonmouth snake and those bites can be fatal. Most of the creeks where people swam were “hang-outs” and my proper Southern mother was not about to be seen in those places. The truth is, swimming in these creeks was sometimes little more than playing in the water because of the landscape.

DANGER ZONE!

There was also a large “River Culture” in the South. The rivers were huge, fast and treacherous! Because we are so close to the ocean, they run deep with strong currents. I found myself in one of those currents one time and although I’m a strong swimmer, except by the Grace of God, I would have surely died that day. I went so deep into the blackness that I could only see a pinprick of light and a voice in my mind said, “SWIM TO THE LIGHT!” and I did. As I exploded onto the surface with my very last bit of oxygen running out, I swam fiercely towards the docks and again, barely made it to safety before total exhaustion set in. The culture on most rivers was a party culture and again, I was raised to stay away. That’s one time I should have surely listened. The waters of the rivers were rumored to be polluted with sewage and that didn’t add to the attraction of swimming there.

Nirvana

I knew that I loved swimming pools because as I got a little older, our family vacations upgraded to include motels with pools! I was in Heaven! I was sad to leave those magical places, saying goodbye for another year. At age 9, we moved into  a small town in South Alabama, directly across the street from the City Pool. I had surely entered into the Pearly Gates. This was too good to be true! My parents paid for me to have Red Cross Swimming Lessons and life was good. We lived there a couple of years and moved away. I didn’t have access to another pool for many years until as an adult, I joined the local YMCA. I spent endless hours swimming laps in that pool for 10 years. I would swim the American Crawl for 30 minutes, use the fins for 30 minutes, swimming like a dolphin, pull the swim block for 30 minutes, isolating my upper body to do all the work and cool down with 30 minutes on my back. Now as a heavy lifter, I do not have the time to swim and swimming laps would impact my lifting because it requires so much energy. Now, after finding my first love, lifting, I don’t miss it. I did find out a lot in those years,  however.

More Than Laps

Although I swam laps almost exclusively, I was invited to a water aerobics class one time and reluctantly, I went. I expected a wimpy workout. Mind you that at that time I was running, lifting light weights, bowling and swimming laps. I slid into the water while “Barbie” “worked me out” and thought I had missed my workout for the day. I felt nothing. Normally muscle soreness will set in about 48 hours after strenuous exercise but the next morning when I jumped out of bed, I almost hit the floor! I was WRECKED. If you decide to try water aerobics, remember, it’s great exercise and you  won’t feel like you’re working out. If you are not very active before you go to your first class, go easy if you want to walk the next day. It’s fun and easy and has great cardiovascular and strength benefits. It’s also quite inexpensive compared to joining the gym overall. Most pools have low fees for classes and do not require gym membership. I would advise wearing a one-piece swimsuit made for exercise rather than the showboat bikini designed to get attention. You might lose it. The classes are made up of all kinds of people and everyone can feel comfortable in that atmosphere. You don’t have to be an Olympian or a swimsuit model to fit in.

BE(A)WARE!

There are a few things that only experience can teach you about swimming as your main form of exercise. Regardless of the suit that you wear, if you go into a highly chlorinated pool, it might go see-through before you get out! Yep, it just might. I’m very light skinned and I’ll never forget walking into the dressing room after a long, relaxing swim one hot summer afternoon and catching a glimpse of my entire derriere in the mirror, shining right through my black swimsuit that was so carefully chosen to make me look slim and sexy…smooth move! If your pool is not overly chlorinated, this won’t happen but if the smell of chlorine is intense, get ready to shine. I strongly advise wearing a suit for function rather than looks. I chose my suits for both but whatever you do, don’t get one that is too skimpy. People think that you’re an idiot if you do that at a pool that is meant for fitness and you may lose the suit in the water if you really work out.

I stayed in a heavily chlorinated pool for too long one time and the entire whites of my eyes turned beet red and my vision got blurry for a few hours. Use some common sense. I believe that chlorine is necessary in a public pool but again, if it smells strong, adjust your behavior accordingly. Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant. Excessive chlorine exposure can cause problems with your skin, hair and nails. There are swimmer’s lotions to protect your skin. Remember to buy good goggles and replace them when they become  foggy or dirty. You need to be able to see in the water. Use a swim cap. It will protect your hair. Wet your hair and comb conditioner through it before putting it under the swim cap. This will keep your hair from absorbing the chlorine that will seep in and also make the swim cap MUCH easier to put on. Get a SILICONE cap. I cannot tell you how much easier they are to put on and take off and how much better they are for your hair! I tried all of them. I got most of my swim supplies from http://www.kiefer.com They have everything. If there’s any chance of swimming outdoors, get a lightning detector. Kiefer has those too. Get under the shower in your suit before going into the pool to saturate your suit with cool tap water. It will absorb less chlorine. As soon as you get out of the pool, rinse your suit in cold water. DON’T put detergent on it. It will destroy the fiber. Carry moisturizers, shampoo and conditioners and wear open shoes to allow your feet to dry. Whatever you do, make sure to wear flip-flops in the shower! Even the cleanest facilities can be harboring athletes foot in those areas that stay wet all the time.

Swimming is one of the best exercises for the entire body. Allow plenty of time for going to the pool, the ritual of getting in, swimming and taking care of yourself when you get out. In cold weather have a hot drink and a light snack before leaving the gym to bring up your core temperature and bundle up before hitting the door. Be careful to stay within your calorie allowance because swimming lowers your core temperature and you will get hungry to try to raise it back up to normal. For all of the benefits of swimming, I have actually GAINED weight swimming frequently because I did not stay within my calorie allowance.

Swimming was my salvation when I had injured myself jumping rope on hard packed clay. The lack of impact,  great relaxation and good full-body exercise was just what I needed. I have always had a love affair with the water. It’s magic.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

(1) https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities

(2) https://www.swimming.org/justswim/8-benefits-of-swimming/

 

The Power Within

You Have the Power to Change Your Life

Regardless of your circumstances, if you are not content, there are changes that you can make that will increase your contentment. In this article, we will address what we consider to be a “normal” level of discontent, and one of the best strategies to increase your happiness. We are not discussing clinical depression. That is a serious medical problem that requires a professional intervention. See your doctor if you have the signs and symptoms of depression.

Discontent

By “normal” level of discontent I’m referring to the everyday thoughts that we could be doing better. You know, the “I just don’t know how my life turned out this way.” kind of generic misery that is pervasive in American society. It’s an epidemic. For the most part, I think that we’re spoiled. We think that our lives should read like a romance novel or a sitcom and when that is seldom the truth, we decide that we blew it. There may be an element of truth in that, however, we do not, let me repeat, do NOT have to stay that way! Our lot in life is up to us to a great degree. While some people do seem to have better opportunities than others, we can all make changes that will increase our happiness.

A Key to Happiness

One of the most powerful mind/mood altering elements known to man is effective on a daily basis, affordable, legal, available in multi platforms, is not addictive and has no negative side effects. It is, yep, you guessed it, exercise…activity…movement…working out. “Usually within five minutes of working out, you get a mood enhancement effect.”[1] Couple this feel-good, can-do mindset with a healthy body and there is no limit to your capabilities. Your mental strength increases right along with your physical strength. “Exercise could help to ward off panic attacks…”[2] If you suffer from anxiety, PTS, depression or any other mental/emotional/psychological difficulty, exercise can help that. A leisurely stroll will do you some good and any exercise is better than nothing, however, there is a lot of evidence that strenuous exercise can do more. There are exceptions to this. Use common sense. Do whatever empowers you.

Super Hero!

Exercise can awaken the beast that lies within, the source of your strength, the part of you that literally fights for your life. Very soon after I began lifting heavy, I got serious about recreating my entire life. Once you discover that you can do hard things that you never dreamed that you could do, there is no limit to what you will attempt. Mind you, there are those who will not understand what you’re doing. The very nature of “CHANGE” terrifies the tamer soul. When these people, with these mild temperaments see you altering your life to be happy, they will most likely think that you’ve lost your mind. The truth is, you’ve lost THEIR mind. You are finding yours.

There are Rules

When we work out hard our bodies need a day to rest between workouts. I’ve known people who were determined to break this rule and lifted heavy, or ran hard, every single day…for a while…and then the injury hit. Trust me on this. Regardless of your age, gender or physical condition if you train really hard every single day, you will sustain an injury. Then you’ve got to stop the strenuous exercise to heal…and then, in that season, you will get muscle atrophy and lose ground. Don’t you know that it would have been better to just go by the rules to begin with and make slow and steady progress? I have to temper myself here, and I do. I have seen more than one person injure themselves over-training. After injury, the time when you can’t work out is a dangerous time for depression and weight gain. You can lose it all. Just go by the rules, they exist for a reason.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Metamorphosis

Once you begin to get strong and feel better, there are changes that take place in your mind. There is an area of study that shows strong correlation between exercise and empowerment. It shows that the mastery of the workout and self-determination may trigger a sense of autonomy, or independence. This leads to empowerment.[3] Nothing feels as good as empowerment. It means that I am the captain of my fate. I do not have to take potluck. I decide what’s brought to the table and then I decide if I want it.

Choices

Once you decide on the type of exercise that you want to do, go as hard as your physician will allow. On your off days, walk. “Exercise is the best restorative exercise.” (David Yochim). No truer words have ever been spoken. I truly love my walks. I walk long and hard but it’s nothing compared to rising from a heavy squat, so it’s actually an off day from strenuous activity. Everything works better after those walks. I am invigorated and pumped to do the things that I  tend to put off. After a good walk, I’m ready to conquer the world. After a hard weight workout, I’m ready to rest.

 Commit to Yourself

Choose the days that you will do the hard workout, and do it on those days. David taught me this. He says to make that your job on those days and that is what works best for me. If I start changing my workout days, sooner or later, I’ll miss one. Missing workouts is bad for me mentally and physically. I’ve found that the earlier in the day that I do it, the stronger I am in the workout, providing I have eaten enough calories. Just get it done anyway that you can. I’ve been known to do it in the middle of the night because honestly, anything is better than missing it for me. I have found that I need to do my workouts when I don’t feel rushed. Do what works best for you, but after years of working out, these are some of the things that I have learned.

You may have to miss some social activities to commit to your workout but tell me now… Had you rather be sitting in a room full of mostly unhealthy, unhappy “friends acquaintances and frienemies” sipping sugar and eating salt or had you rather feel the wind in your hair, your muscles pumping, sweating and knowing that you are doing exactly what you should be doing for yourself, challenging the status quo, getting hot and healthy and defying your age, your genetics and all the naysayers that try to tell you to “act your age”…what?… age equals sick and out of shape?…I don’t think so. 64 is better than 40 for me.

After you’ve taken these steps 1-doctor’s permission, 2-type of exercise and 3-commitment, repeat…and repeat again. Never stop. Don’t look back. You will never be the same once you discover the power within.

1,2 http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12exercise.aspx

3 https://pdfs.semanticsscholar.org/523c/a28f920b6a149f5761502b4502ebe1a4bfdc.pdf

Walking for Exercise

Have you ever listened to someone full of confidence make a blanket statement on a topic and then wondered if they were either seriously misinformed, or just a tad delayed in cognitive reasoning? Here is one of those statements I recently heard from a clearly overweight and and out of shape gentleman that was the catalyst for this topic;

“Walking is not exercise”.

Whaat???

Are you serious? I am here to tell you that not is only walking exercise, it is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do for yourself. It is great for your heart, and it is the most restorative exercise you can do following an injury. It is excellent for someone wanting to do cardio after strength training because it is not only low impact, it will not cause any loss of lean muscle such as running can cause. If you are losing unwanted pounds, it is imperative that you maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible, walking will allow you to do this. Walking is great exercise! When we run, we not only burn through fat, we also burn through lean muscle mass. Think about this, have you ever seen a marathon runner that was a big muscular individual?

A mistake that people make when dieting and using running for their exercise is not understanding that when you run, your body relies on calories to gain energy. The most readily available energy stores come from glycogen. When your body burns through glycogen, it begins burning fat. The amount of time this takes varies depending on the intensity of your run, your diet and similar factors, but this usually takes about 30 minutes. If you continue running for an extended period of time after your body begins burning fat, your body also starts burning muscle. The problem for dieters who do not understand nutrition is they can often become malnourished which means you’ll burn muscle more quickly when you run.

Of course some of the main benefits of running include weight loss, stress release, and stronger heart and lungs, but as with most anything that affects your body, you need to know there is often more to the equation than you might know.

Why do we need to maintain lean muscle?

Because as we age, aerobic capacity, muscle quality, as well as agility naturally decline.  It is important to exercise and stay active as you get older to preserve functional fitness. The more fit you are, the longer it can take for your body to get out of shape. Additionally, your lean muscle mass affects your metabolism, the more you maintain, the better your metabolism will be for keeping body fat off. Lean body mass is more “metabolically active” than fat, meaning that muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.  Two individuals that are the same height and weight can have very different metabolic rates, based on their body composition.  Lean body mass is one factor that we can control in order to increase our metabolism and burn more calories!

Benefits of walking for exercise;

Most people can get out and walk, which isn’t just good for you, it is one of the easiest forms of exercise to incorporate into your day-to-day life. Additionally, it is not even arguable that being physically active reduces your risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When people diet to lose weight, they often lose some muscle in addition to body fat. This is counterproductive, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This means it helps you burn more calories each day. Walking, can help counter this effect by preserving lean muscle when you lose weight by reducing the drop in your metabolic rate that often occurs with weight loss, making your results easier to maintain.

When it comes to nutrition and weight loss, people make it more difficult than it needs to be. For exercise you do not require anything fancy or high priced, a simple daily brisk walk can help you to live a healthier life.

For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

Maintain a healthy weight

Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

Strengthen your bones and muscles

Improve your mood

Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.

Walking has it all. Simple and natural, it doesn’t require any instruction or skill. It can be a very modest form of exercise or it can demand enough skill and intensity to be an Olympic sport. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends for companionship. You can walk indoors on a treadmill or outside in the city or country, at home or away. You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. And to boot, walking is inexpensive. All things considered, Charles Dickens got it right: “Walk to be healthy, walk to be happy.”

 

Women’s Strength Training Program

 

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

ALWAYS consult your medical doctor before beginning ANY exercise program.

I had a special topic request from a very special reader, my baby girl Molly Ann. Of course at 31 she is no longer a baby to anyone but me. What great timing for her request as this is something I have had on the back burner for a few days anyhow.

To first get a few things out of the way, there can be several reasons why ladies and men fail with weight training programs. Although lifting weights is not rocket science, if you have no experience, you do not know what it is you do not know. Your lack of knowledge will result in over training, injury and burn out to name a few issues you will encounter. Over training comes from pushing yourself too hard before your body is actually ready for it. Your central nervous system can become fatigued over time and one day you will wake up feeling as if you are coming down with the flu and a depression can overwhelm you. Injury can happen from over training, such as pushing too much weight too soon. Your muscles will gain strength at a quicker rate than your connective tissues which will leave you with painful tendinitis. Injury will also happen if your form goes deteriorates during a lift and you strain or tear a muscle. You have to know when to throw in the towel. Burn out can be a result of a combination of Central Nervous System Fatigue and injury, or it could be that you should have had some rest days in between sessions and just got bored with the hard work of strength training.

My next word of caution if you want to get into strength training is be extra choosy about who you take your advice from. Even if someone looks to be in great shape, it does not mean they know much about good training. Sometimes a person might look fit despite their training. Just because a person appears strong and has muscles, it does not mean they can put together a workable strength training program for you. In short, the guy who is always posing in the mirror or in front of a camera flexing his muscles, and who spends hours and hours in the gym hitting muscles from every different direction, is not who you want to go to for advice when you are new to lifting. Especially if they try to get you to complete a hard to understand laundry list of exercises every session. These types usually have more of an interest in impressing you with their vast knowledge over actually helping you. Weight training does not need to be complicated to be very effective. In fact, when you are new, a complicated routine will end up aggravating you more than anything. Who has the time or interest in learning and doing every curl variation there is under the sun, then moving on to another dozen lifts per muscle. If you go that route though, be sure they teach you how to flex in the mirror or in front of the camera between every set just like they do. Also make sure they teach you how to do that annoying guttural groan with every rep of every set so that every one knows you are pumping the iron.

I am going to lay out a simple barbell program along with a dumbbell variation at a later time for any who may only have access to them instead of a barbell. You do not require much equipment, but a good flat bench with squat stands is essential for the barbell program. Adjustable dumbbells is all you require for the dumbbell variation besides the bench.

In full transparency, the barbell program is not one I have written myself. I am a student of Coaches Mark Rippetoe, Bill Starr, Louie Simmons, Glen Pendlay, Steve Shaw and Jeff Cavalier to name a few. Most of these coaches have developed programming based on old school training methods which are simple by design and the best linear progressive programs you can do. In my early years of weight training I realized that the only way to go if I was going to be serious was to learn from serious coaches and not go with trial and error from bull I picked up in Muscle Magazines and other media. It only makes sense to learn from those who have already made and corrected every mistake that can be encountered while under the iron.

Now, to get to my thoughts on Women’s Weight Training. How about we not distinguish any difference in how men and women train. True we have hormonal differences, and obvious differences in our genders. But other than that, our bodies are the same. There is no difference in our muscle groups, therefore there is no good reason to train any differently solely because of a difference in our genders. Ladies, know that barbell training is not going to make you bulky unless you put in a lot of effort towards getting bulky. You do not produce the testosterone to get there.  It is a lot of work for men to ever get bulky and usually requires eating a very high calorie diet to get there. At my strongest, I was intentionally eating 6000 calories a day to fuel heavy lifting. You do not do that by accident, I guarantee. No one just gets bulky over night, not ever. Unless they are on performance enhancing drugs, and not always even then if they are not putting in the work to get huge.

Besides having run the barbell program myself, I coach Brenda Sue. We began her with a simple Kettlebell program before she decided to get truly serious and bought a barbell. Her bench and squat rack came later. We had barely began with her training when her home took a direct hit by three tornadoes back in March 2018. In the beginning, she was doing floor presses instead of bench press and had to improvise a squat rack by stacking containers up to set the barbell at shoulder height. Brenda Sue recovered her iron from the wreckage of her home and continued the improvised lifting for a couple more weeks in her temporary shelter at a local hotel. And then she moved into a house and completed her set up with a bench and squat stands. Brenda Sue went from a very shaky 35 lb squat and maybe about the same for a dead lift and bench press to her current 140 lb squat, 110 bench press and 225 lb deadlift.  Her squat was so weak and shaky that I truly wondered if she was going to master the lift or stick with it long enough to master it. I told her when she first began that if she stuck with my training that she would need to buy more weight for her barbell. I know that did not seem real to her at first, then soon we had to discuss her getting more weights. And guess what ladies, Brenda looks strong, she is strong, yet she is not the least bit bulky. Oh, another point of interest, Brenda was 61 years old when she began lifting weights seriously. She had piddled around in years past, but never serious as in now. Now, she is a true believer in how effective it is. This is a very simple to follow basic barbell program that follows a linear progression, which means you will start very light and add 5 to 10 pounds to the barbell every lifting session until you fail to execute all of your reps in a set. At that time, you will simply try that same weight next session and if you get all reps, you add more weight the next. If you fail to get all of your reps again, then you de-load by about 10% and work your way back up. This is the Rippetoe Starting Strength model of 3×5 where you will do 2 warm up sets and then 3 working sets of 5 reps only on each set. The entire program only involves 5 different lifts; Squat, Dead Lift, Bench Press, Overhead Press and Bent Over Row. This is a full body workout that will get you great results without having to spend more than an hour in the gym and does not require any complicated set and rep schemes that the body builders would have you doing. I believe in the KISS concept, Keep it Stupid Simple so even a guy such as myself can follow it. This routine will only be done 3 days a week, such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then no lifting at all on the other days. If you want to do cardio, I suggest you run or walk directly after your lifting. Do not run on your non lifting days as the running will kill your lifts. You have to be able to recover between sessions, even though you will not feel the need at the beginning. Know this, a good lifting program performed right is cardiovascular in nature. This training is going to work your heart as much as running.

Now to cover the lifts and the muscle groups impacted by each:

Squats: (From Wikipedia)

a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs and hips, and buttocks, quadriceps, femoral muscle and hamstrings, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs as well as developing core strength.

Dead Lifts:(From LiveStrong)

Back Muscles

The erector spinae, the muscles of your low back, are some of the main movers during the deadlift exercise. These three muscles — the iliocastalis, the longissimus and the spinalis — run from near the base of your skull, down your back and attach to the lower vertebrae. The erector spinae muscles perform several movements related to the torso and neck. During the deadlift, these muscles help extend the torso, pulling the spine back as you stand up.

Glute Muscles

The deadlift also targets your butt muscles, the gluteus maximus. This is the large muscle that runs diagonally down from the middle of your body to the outside of your thigh. It attaches to your pelvic bone and sacrum on one end and your femur, the thigh bone, on the other end. The gluteus maximus muscle is responsible for hip extension, moving the top of your pelvic bone back as you stand up during the deadlift exercise.

Leg Muscles

The deadlift targets both the quadriceps on the front of your thigh and the hamstrings on the back of your thigh. However, the hamstrings only act as stabilizers during this exercise; the quadriceps muscles are the primary movers. They are four muscles that run from the top of your thigh, down the front of your leg and attach to your tibia, one of the bones of your lower leg. These muscles are responsible for knee extension, straightening the knee joint as you stand up during the deadlift.

Bench Press: (from BodyBuilding.com)

It is the staple exercise for building muscle mass and strength in the chest. The primary muscles that are worked in a bench press are the triceps brachii and pectoralis major with the anterior (front) deltoids, traps& back as secondary muscles.

Overhead Press: (from LiveStrong)

You usually lift less weight in the overhead press than you do in a squat, deadlift or bench press because the primary movers are small muscles.

The anterior deltoids, located at the front of the three-part shoulder muscle, activate when you push up. This muscle does the most work during the overhead press. The lateral, or medial, deltoids, located at the top of the shoulder, and the postior delts at the back also help in the pushing process.

Your rotator cuff muscles, a complex group made up of the surpraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis that fan over the shoulder blades, keep your shoulders in proper position during the press. This group also benefits from doing moves like the overhead press because it makes them stronger and prevents them from failing during everyday activities, such as playing tennis, moving furniture and lifting things onto a high shelf.

Upper Back and Arms

The shrug performed at the top of the press activates the upper portion of your trapezius muscle, which shows as a broad, diamond shape across the upper back. The upper traps originate in the neck and along the very top part of the backs of the shoulders. The middle and lower traps activate to a lesser degree during the shoulder press.

Your arms, specifically your triceps, are responsible for the extension of the elbow that allows you to push up. The biceps stabilize the extended elbow at the top of the movement.

Core Stability

Doing an overhead press from the classic standing position requires greater muscle control and stabilization. Your core, primarily the muscles of your abs and lower back, help keep you pushing in a straight line.

The shoulders, arms and upper back must also engage in a greater degree of stability during a standing overhead press, as compared to a seated press, showed a 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Although the overhead press is not leg-specific, your thighs, hips, ankles and calves maintain your upright position as you overhead press. They work isometrically to do so.

Bent Over Row: (from BodyBuilding.com)

This exercise is a great compound movement which incorporates the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, traps, and even the biceps. It is obviously a good choice to ensure you are getting as much benefit out of your back training as possible.

Here is the workout in it’s simplicity. You will begin with an empty 45 pound Olympic barbell for each lift or load a standard barbell to 40 pounds if you have no access to an Olympic bar:
Workout A:

Squats, 5 sets of 5 reps.

Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps

Bent Over Rows: 5 sets of 5 reps
Workout B:

Squats, 5 sets of 5 reps

Deadlifts: 4 sets of 5 reps

Overhead Press: 5 sets of 5 reps

Alternate these workouts, ABA on week 1, BAB the next then back to ABA. Be sure to skip a day between sessions and skip 2 days after the third. In due time, you will need those rest days.

You will squat every session. You will only do 4 sets of 5 reps with the deadlift. When the deadlifts get heavy, they will be very taxing on your system, especially with squatting each session.

Start with an empty 45 pound Olympic barbell or 40 pounds on a standard barbell. On your second work out, do your first two sets with the empty bar and then add 5 pounds to the barbell. Next session, begin with the empty bar and add 10 pounds, then 15 and on and on, by adding five pounds to the last weight you used every session. Once your 3 sets of working weight gets about 35 pounds heavier than your warm up, begin adding in 5 pound increments to your warm up also. Even if this seems ridiculously light at first, you first need to perfect your form before getting into heavy weights. By adding 5 pounds every session, that barbell is going to get heavy more rapidly than you might think. Keep your ego in check, you do not want to rush heavy weights as first, and foremost we do not want you to suffer an injury from improper form.

Lastly, try to eat 1800 calories of whole healthy foods a day and you will drop body fat as you gain strength and tone your body. Please do not let any meathead body building types get you side tracked with a bunch of superfluous lifts that will only serve to take away from the main lifts on this program and have you trying to follow their madness. As laid out above, you can see these compound lifts will work your entire body. Weight training is not rocket science and does not have to be a day long commitment in the gym unless you just truly want it to be. Keep it simple and enjoy.

ALWAYS consult your medical doctor before beginning ANY exercise program.

Be Successful at Weight Loss with Continuity

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

The “Magic”

“Continuity” is sometimes defined as “the unbroken or consistent existence of, or operation of something over a period of time” or “the maintenance of continuous action and self consistent detail…”¹ and it is so important that huge studies in sociology have been conducted to determine it’s power in changing not only specific people groups but the course of the history of humankind. How much more power does it have to change the individual?

Years ago I had the opportunity to see this in action on a small scale when I was at work. I usually worked with a man who was pretty slack with the rules. Even though, at first glance, that seemed to create a low stress environment, I discovered different when he was unable to report for duty one day. In his absence, not one but three separate supervisors covered for him. These employees were known for their attention to detail, their strict adherence to the rules. As I entered the workplace, I noticed a completely different atmosphere. There was no drama. There was no confusion. There was no variance. Everyone present knew that in this situation, their only option was to just do their job the way that they were trained. The smoothness of that day was astounding! Everything worked the way it was intended to work. When unique situations presented there was no chaos because guess what? We just went “by the book”. I quickly learned the concept of “continuity”. The outcome was efficient productivity.

This is a key to successful weight/wellness management. Quite often we make a valiant effort to lose weight or work out or improve our sleep…for a while. We “try” every day not knowing exactly how long we can endure. After an enthusiastic start, we slowly lose momentum and when hard things present themselves in our lives, we use those dark times as an excuse to ditch our health initiatives. The changes that were wrought begin to lose their hold and the scale begins to go up or we skip a workout altogether or just forego our sleep initiative and pretty soon, not only have we lost our progress, we have moved in the opposite direction. The variance produces confusion and chaos and we become emotional and dramatic and spin out of control. When we commit to “the rules” with little or no room for variance, we automatically know exactly what we are supposed to do and if a question arises, we pursue the correct answer. We don’t look for excuses to vary from our program. How avidly we pursue continuity is an accurate indication of our sincerity and devotion to our health initiative. Are we really intending to change or are we merely going through the motions, getting through from day to day, working our plan at a very low level and never attaining any goals? If we desire a different life or body or mindset we must do the things required to get those things.

We have all known the individual who was unhappy with his/her life but was unwilling to make the changes necessary to be happy. I was one of those people. I had been beyond unhappy for so many years that I almost didn’t remember being happy. I talked about it, a lot. One day a well- meaning woman looked me in the eye and said, “Brenda, nobody can do anything about that except you.” It was like ice water thrown on me. In one moment, I realized that all the talking in the world would not fix my life. I had to take action. I made a post on social media about wide-sweeping changes coming in my life and set out to do just that. I had not been playing by the rules. A well known definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. (Albert Einstein) I had been doing just that. The rules dictate that if we want change, we must change and the reality is that it must be a continual change for ongoing change in our lives. I am the happiest that I have ever been after making such drastic changes that my former life is not identifiable anywhere in the life that I have now. Within three months of that  post, my former life was dissolved and I continue to re-enforce this new life daily with the activities necessary to fuel it’s existence. I must be proactive in my ongoing creation of this life. A large focus in my life now is physical strength because it has far reaching positive influences across the board. This strength defines me now. I’m known for it and I follow those rules, working out, pursuing rest and eating healthy. Continuity, or the lack of it, is the key to contentment or chaos. It creates the goal that it moves towards and without it our lives stagnate into pools of depression and inefficiency with our hopes and dreams broken on the rocky shores of the sea of confusion brought on by having no clearly defined plan to see them come to life. I wish that I had made these changes before I did. I challenge you to make a plan to live your best life, now. Without adherence to continuity, your stress and ghrelin levels will soar. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone and excessive amounts will make you ravenous and can cause you to veer off-course from your goal.

The first step to a fulfilled life is to set goals that will give you satisfaction. Again, make those goals attainable. If they are attainable you can easily design a clear course of action to get there. Make your statement of your goals detailed. These details will be some of steps you need to take to get to your ultimate goal. If you want to lose X number of pounds, a detail could be to lose 5% of your body weight which will give you great improvements in your health. Read David’s article, How Incremental 5% Weight Losses Benefit You for information about how this goal can make a lot of difference!

Once you have set your goals, commit. There will be schedule changes. There will be upheavals. There will be every demon in hell trying to prevent your success. Press on. Don’t stop. See it through. Keep seeing it through and do it again. Never stop. That’s how you make sweeping life changes. One commitment to Continuity at a time.

https://www.google.com/search?q=define+continuity&oq=define+continuity&aqs=chrome.0.69i59l3j013.6252j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Elite Sports Born Tough Workout Pants Review

https://www.borntough.com/

https://www.elitesports.com/

Workout Jogger Pants & Leggings

Born Tough Women Contoured Tracksuit Bottom Black

FINALLY!

I have looked for good workout pants for years and paid way too much for many of them. I have bought a lot of the top brands and while they were pretty or professional looking, none have performed like these.

The sizing is true. I ordered a medium which is my regular size, and the fit is perfect. I am 5″6′ tall and there is a little extra length that scrunches close to the leg, so they will be long enough if you are taller than me. If you are not as tall as I am, you will still have a good fit because the high-quality fabric that Elite used to make these pants lays close to the skin. The SWIFT fabric is 92% cotton and 8% spandex and has incredible stretch and structural support. They are contoured to fit close to the body which is perfect for all athletes. The accentuated seams make the pants more flexible and tough, so they perform well in the squat. We all know that if pants stand up to the squat, they will stand up to anything!

I particularly like the drawstring waist that helps give you a smoother waistline and also keeps your pants secure in the squat. You don’t have to worry about southern exposure when you go deep when you’re wearing these pants. The inset panel at the waist also smooths your front view. The contoured panels in the legs allow for the muscular build of athletes. Your quads will be cozy in these pants. While they have great stretch, as witnessed by their performance in the squat, they also have good support due to the high quality fabric. I believe that this quality of comfortable, functional support is made possible by the high percentage of cotton in the fabric. While cotton does stretch, it stretches much less than those trendy pants that are mostly spandex.

You can order the pants at https://www.borntough.com/products/born-tough-women-contoured-tracksuit-bottom-black . At only $39.99, they are a true bargain. You can even choose to pay for them in four $10.00 interest-free payments! Now where else can you buy workout pants like that? I have paid much more for well-known brands of workout pants that I have either thrown away or are simply taking up space in a drawer. I tend to wear my favorite pair of pants over and over because they make me feel good in my workout. As of today, I have a new favorite. https://www.borntough.com/collections/workout-jogger-pants-leggings