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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fitness Tip: Obsessing about food

Taken from googleimages

 Clearly, this is not a how-to post. When I started losing weight the only thing I didn't do was count calories or go on fad diets. However, I did obsess about food.

We shouldn't be glutons when it comes to eating. But I think counting calories is tiresome and unhelpful. I think it can be useful for people with thyroid problems, diabetes and serious medical problems where diet regulation has to be strict. For the rest of us it's really just about making smarter choices.

I have a sweet tooth. I like to eat sweets. I do endulge myself sometimes. Other times, I make smarter choices. Maybe I'll have 

I like fried foods. Sometimes I do endulge myself. Other times
  • I'll roast some potatoes (or sweet potatoes) with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. 
  • Maybe I'll bake some fish with toasted sesame seeds for that crunch you'd get with fried food.

The options are endless. I do try to get my daily requirements of fruits and vegetables any way that I can. I make smarter choices where I can. 
  • I drink skim milk
  • Eat non fat yogurt
  • Drink water or iced green/white/black tea instead of soft drinks
  • Eat salads with my meals
  • Eat whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Dark chocolate
Counting calories makes me obsess about food. I don't do it. 
  • I eat on smaller plates
  • I'll drink two cups of water before eating my main meal
  • I'll accompany my meal with broth-based soup and/or a salad.
  • I think of ways to make sure I am truly hungry before I endulge. 
  • I also eat more often (every 3-4 hours) so that when I am hungry, I'm not starving and eat more than I need to.

Incorporating exercise into my lifestyle has also helped. I am careful not to use it as an excuse to binge. But if I do feel like eating some ice cream I don't obsess because I know I'll burn off those calories.

In short, we are always thinking about food. It is everywhere we look. We have to deal with it. However, I try to curb my obessesion by making smart choices where I can. When I do slip up, I get right back on track the following day.

Yes, we need food to live. We can enjoy it but we don't have to obsess about it.

Weekly Recipe: Goat cheese, carmalized onion, and spinach quesadilla

Goat cheese, carmalized onion, and spinach quesadilla

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced red onion
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
9 oz baby spinach
4 8-inch whole wheat flout tortillas
4 oz goat cheese
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Cook onion, sugar, salt until dark golden. Remove. Add spinach and 1 Tbsp. water until wilted. Spread cheese on tortilla and top with spinach, onion, tomato. Fold and cook tortillas until golden and lightly crisp.

Again, another highly versatile dish. This is the second time I've made these quesadillas. This time I used regular sharp cheddar cheese and regular onions. I used brown sugar because I couldn't find my white sugar in the house. If you feel like meat, I'm sure it'd be delicious with some chicken or fish or ground beef. I also mixed up some guacamole as a side.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fitness Tip: Workout basics

You have your workout program started or are in the process. Here are some further tips to give you inspiration, a kick in the butt, and/or guidance.

Taken from googleimages

Cardio should be done everyday. 
  • If you only have time to workout 3 days a week, then do your cardio each day. 
  • Weights you can do 2 out of those 3 days 
  • It's important to do at least 30 minutes of cardio everyday. 
So for those without a lot of time try:
  • interval training
  • bike to work
  • walk up stairs
  • stand more often
  • talk a walk after lunch or dinner
  • do some chores around the house

Splitting up exercises throughout the day is just as good as one long session.
  • Interval training!
  • Do 10 minute sessions of high knees, tennis shuffle, jumping jacks, push ups, squats, lunges, chair dips...throughout the day. These are all equipment free exercises so you can do them anywhere!

Abs are important. Doing loads of crunches and sit ups are not.
  • Have a fitness ball? Good, than possibilities are endless.
  • Try balancing exercises
  • Work the obliques (the lateral part of the abs)
  • Pull that navel in!

Motivation is key
  •  Find what moves you
  • Look for ideas for exercises on this page at the top right under "Health and Fitness"
  • Stay tuned for more tips on how to stay motivated 
Like I said previously, you don't need a ton of equipment to get started. If you work out at a gym you don't even have to use a lot of machines. Grab some free weights and a fitness ball. The same for those that workout at home.

    Try this 10-minute routine for the arms.

    If this helped you leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

    I hope you enjoyed your Fitness Tip and will add it to your Recipe for Health

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    How to Start a Workout Program

    If the First Lady can do it, so can YOU!

    Whether you are exercising at home (like I do) or going to a gym, there is essential gear that you will need before beginning any program. Your needs will differ depending on your lifestyle. So adjust the following suggestions to suit your needs.

    1. Weight gloves -- It's not sexy to have calloused fingers, especially when it can be avoided!
    2. Gym shoes -- You don't want to do weights and indoor cardio with your best running shoes, and you don't have to.
    3. Different outfits -- Be sure to check out my post for Beginner Runners Part 1 and Summer Running Gear Part 1 and 2 for some ideas.
    4. Hand weights
    5. Fitness ball
    6. Medicine ball aka exercise ball aka weighted fitness ball
    7. Fitness tubes and/or bands
    8. Mat
    9. Watch
    10. Adjustable step
    11. Static bike, treadmill, or elliptical trainer

    These are basic tools you will find at most gyms. For those exercising at home, these are some things you may want to buy. I didn't buy everything at once. I got hand weights, a mat and a fitness ball to start out with. There are endless amounts of exercises you can do with just a fitness ball and some weights. So don't feel like you have to spend a fortune all at once.

    The next step is finding a regimen that works for your fitness level and for your schedule. I like exercises that multitask. Meaning, they hit various muscle groups at the same time. So each time I exercise I'm doing a full body workout in a short time. Plus, those type of exercises are usually more challenging and more interesting. As always, do what works for you. 
    But for your convenience, here are some tips:

    Make a schedule -- It is easy to skip a day when you haven't planned your week out. Don't fall into this trap. Plan to exercise a few times a week (3 days is best at the start) and do it!

    Go in with a plan -- Know what you want out of each session before you start. If you want to focus on the legs, butt, abs, focus on those muscle groups. Group each session into manageable chunks so you don't feel overwhelmed. Also, this prevents you from having to be at the gym for hours at end.

    Safety first -- There is nothing worse than going to the gym and not knowing how to use the machines. Don't guess. Ask for help if you need it. If not you may hurt yourself. Or not work the muscle appropriately. You don't want all that hard work going to waste! The same holds true for at-home exercisers. 

    Find a motivator -- For me it's hanging up photos of all my exercises in my gym room and posters of races I've run. (I tend to print out exercises from online sites).

    Start out with the basics -- Tempting though it may be to start out with the challenging things right away, don't. The most important thing is form. Do the exercise the right way and don't rush through them. Once you have it down, increase the weight or the reps. When you get bored with that move onto something new.

    Switch it up -- Even the best exercise regimen can get stale. Change something every three months for continued results. It can be using heavier weights, doing more repetitions or changing the routine completely. You decide. I like to change things up. Although I still have my "go-to" exercises that I love. 

    Have balance -- You never want to lift weights all the time or do cardio all the time or hit a particular muscle group all time. Ideally, you want to incorporate some of everything. Strength training is just as important as cardio, in my opinion. 

    And finally.... 

    Enjoy yourself -- It goes without saying, right? 

     Stay tuned for future posts on: 
    • How to stick with a workout program.... and
    •  MY workout program!

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Fitness Tip: Back exercises

    Easy Ways to Strengthen the Back

    We all know that the best way to nurture the back is with a strong core. However, here are some old and new exercises strictly for the back that I incorporate into my exercise routine.

    (All exercises taken from Fitness Magazine)

    Lie facedown with arms extended in front of you. Lift upper and lower body off floor as you bend elbows and draw shoulder blades together (as shown). Hold; touch heels together 10 times. Return to start. Repeat four times.

    • Works lower back, shoulders, butt
    Twist Away
    Secure resistance band at chest level; grip a handle in each hand, arms extended in front of you, palms in. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Draw right hand toward waist. Keeping hands fixed, rotate torso to right (as shown). Rotate back to center and release right arm for one rep. Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
    • Works upper back, obliques

    Kneeling Row
    Secure band at eye level or higher; grip a handle in each hand. Kneel and extend arms above shoulder level on a diagonal, palms in. Squeeze shoulder blades together as you draw hands toward chest (as shown). Hold for one count, then release arms for one rep. Do 15 reps.
    • Works upper back, middle back

    Shrug it Off
    Sit on edge of chair, hands at front of seat, fingers forward, knees bent 90 degrees, feet flat. Use arms to lift yourself off chair. Keeping arms straight, shrug shoulders toward ears, lowering butt below seat (as shown); release for one rep. Do 12 reps.
    • Works upper back, shoulders

    Super V Lift
    Lie facedown on bench with hip bones at end, legs together, toes on floor; hold bench for support. Lift lower body until parallel to floor, separate legs in a V (as shown), then bring legs together; lower to floor for one rep. Do 15 reps.
    • Works lower back, butt

    Traffic Stopper
    Secure band at chest level; grip a handle in each hand, arms extended in front of you, palms down. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Draw hands toward chest. Rotate left forearm up (as shown), then lower to parallel. Repeat on right for one rep. Do 10 reps.
    • Works upper back, shoulders

    Here are some new ones that I plan to try.


    Cat-Cow Variation

    Get your doctor's okay before starting these strengthening and conditioning exercises. Reduces stiffness in back and hips; relieves tension in spine
    • a. Cow Pose: On hands and knees, inhale and lift head while making back concave.
    • b. Cat Pose: On exhale, tuck tailbone, contract abs, and round back, head down.
    • c. Child's Pose: Draw hips back to heels, drop chest, rounding spine, and rest forehead on floor, arms in front of you. Do 6 reps of whole cycle. Rest in Child's Pose for several breaths.
    Bridge Pose

    Stretches abs, hips, quads, lower back; strengthens abs
    • Lie faceup with feet on floor about 6 inches from butt, arms by sides, palms down.
    • Inhaling, press into feet and lift lower body until knees form a diagonal with head.
    • As you exhale, contract your abs and slowly lower spine.
    • Do 6 reps.


    Extended Leg Pose

    Stretches hamstrings; strengthens abs
    • Lie faceup with knees bent, feet on floor; take 3 deep breaths.
    • a. Exhale and hug left knee to chest.
    • b. Inhaling, extend left leg over hip. Exhaling, hug it in. Do 3 reps.
    • On fourth rep, keep leg up and circle ankle four times in each direction.
    • Hug knee in; lower foot. Switch sides; repeat.
    • Exhale and hug both knees to chest for 3 breaths.

    Butterfly Pose

    Tones abs, pelvic floor, inner thighs
    • a. Lie faceup with soles of feet together, knees open to sides. Inhale.
    • b. Exhale and slowly squeeze thighs together. Do 6 reps.
    • Do 6 more times, taking twice as long to bring thighs together.
    Cobra Leg Lift
    Strengthens back and pelvic muscles
    • Lie facedown with elbows by sides, hands by shoulders.
    • Rest forehead on floor, chin tucked slightly.
    • Inhale and lift chest using back muscles.
    • At the same time, lift right leg as high as you can while keeping pelvis level.
    • Hold, then exhale to lower.
    • Switch sides; repeat.
    • Do 6 reps, alternating sides, lifting leg a little higher each time.

    If this helped you leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

    I hope you enjoyed your Fitness Tip and will add it to your Recipe for Health