You have another 13 days to enter the 2011 Met-RX Warrior Sweepstakes. It's simple. All you have to do is register at this link and remember to visit and enter everyday through the 31st of May.
This year's grand prize is a 7 day trip for 2 to Rome, Italy. The instant win prizes include Torque Fitness F1 Functional Gym systems, Powerblock dumbbells with rack stand and bench, Powerblock Kettleblocks, Hyperstrike online fitness programs, plus lots of Met-RX brand products.
There are hundreds of combinations of variables that you can consider when designing a workout- resistance, reps, sets, tempo, total time under load, range of motion, rest periods, rep speed, angles of resistance, blah, blah, blah. Nutrition and diet can be equally complicated and confusing- macro nutrient profiles and ratios, micro-nutrient profiles, meal timing, glycemic index, calorie cycling, the best source and form of this, the healthiest way to prepare that. It's enough to make anyone throw their hands up in the air in disgust, grab an ice cream sandwich & can of soda pop and lie down on the couch.
Don't let the information overload discourage you. Start out with a simple plan to exercise and eat right. If you're just getting started do resistance training and cardio at a level that is appropriate for your level of fitness. Stick to the basics. This applies to you if you are trying to lose fat, gain muscle, improve your health or performance or any combination of these. Find out the caloric range required for your target weight range and stick to it. Emphasize nutrient rich foods while minimizing the junk from your diet. Be sure to drink enough water to stay well hydrated at all times. You may want to consider a multivitamin, multimineral to make sure you're getting the right amount of nutrients. Again, these simple tips apply to all beginners, regardless of your reason for exercising and eating right.
Don't waste precious time reading, studying and analyzing all the overwhelming amounts of info. Pick a simple plan, get started, and stick with it.
When you think about it and take notice you'll see that accountability is a big factor in our lives. Most people have to check in at the start of their workday, whether it's punching a time card, being present in the office on time or phoning in. For some self-employed or operators of home-based businesses this lack of accountability to others can be a drawback. This is also true for some people taking on a new exercise and diet program by themselves.
To help you stay on track here are a few tips for adding accountability to yourself and your program.
Keep a fitness log. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or complicated. A workout journal with scheduled workouts, when treated seriously, can not only help with accountability but also with measuring your exercise progress. Even a plain monthly calendar can be a helpful tool. Make a note of the days you're supposed to workout. Everyday that you do follow through with your scheduled workout put some sort of positive symbol on the calendar- a plus mark, smiley face, a big check-mark, and for any day you skip or miss without a valid reason put some sort of negative mark- a minus sign, a big red X or circle with a diagonal line through it, or a sad or angry face. You can also write down the excuse you used for skipping your workout. You'll have a visual reference that will hopefully inspire you to stay consistent. You can do the same for a food/diet log.
Create awareness. It's one thing to tell everyone about what your intentions are but you have to take it further and enlist their help. Tell your family and friends to help by giving you the needed push and encouragement to not skip your workout or a reminder that you're supposed to be watching what and how much you eat. Let your coworkers know that you are not trying to be antisocial when you refuse the daily doughnut at break time or when you don't go to happy hour every Friday after work.
Join or create a support group. Some things seem easier when you're not doing it alone. Get a motivated workout partner or group of friends who are serious about starting and sticking to a fitness program. No one wants to be labeled as the flake that's always missing the workout or not sticking to the diet. The camaraderie of belonging to an exercise group(being part of the club) might motivate you to not only exercise regularly but enjoy it even more.
Invest in yourself. Not many people like to throw away their money. Hiring a professional trainer, properly credentialed dietician/nutritionist, or both will put you on the fast track to reaching your goals. Plus the financial investment, accountability and support should be enough to keep you going until your goals are met and beyond.
One small change can lead to big results. Many small changes or one major change can lead to tremendous results but it can also lead to devastating negatives like noncompliance with your fitness program. In other words if the changes are too many or too drastic you might decide to abandon them and go back to your old, comfortable ways.
If you can foresee this happening to you, or have experienced it in the past I recommend making small changes and only one at a time. Pick one part of your lifestyle that you're pretty sure you can successfully change. Stick with that change until it becomes a permanent part of your routine. Allow that new habit to influence other changes. For example eating a more nutrient rich diet or getting more quality sleep will lead to increased energy which in turn can help you feel more confident about starting and sticking to an exercise program. Or if you start working out regularly your body will start to send you signals to feed it good stuff, not junk. Then it's just a matter of discipline for you to not override those signals.
Keep focusing on each new change until it becomes a regular habit. Don't try to do too much all at once. It doesn't need to be an all or nothing approach. Remember if it's too drastic you could be setting yourself up for failure.
I'm sure you've heard the saying "fail to plan, plan to fail." I know I've heard it more than enough and I'm not a fan of it. Some people fail to plan because they don't know how to do so, and this is especially true when it comes to a complete fitness program. It doesn't mean their intentions are to fail. They probably didn't know where to begin and out of frustration they gave up.
If you're having trouble putting it all together please pay attention. I'm going to show you the steps to creating a plan that will put you on the path to making this year's resolution(s) a reality. This is just a general plan. We'll get into the specifics throughout other posts.
Step 1: Examine your goals. Are they written down as SMART goals? Have you gone through the "Why, Why, What If?" exercise? If the answer to either is "No" then complete this important first step before proceeding.
Step 2: Analyze your addictions and obstacles. Before you can complete your resolution plan of attack you need to have a solid plan for working around, including, or eliminating/overcoming your obstacles and/or addictions. This may require you seeking professional assistance.
Step 3: Take an honest look at yourself. I don't mean just your physical reflection from the mirror. That should have been done when creating your goals. I'm talking about your personality, your likes and dislikes, especially exercise and food preferences. Look closely at your schedule, commitments, habits and normal routine.
Step 4: Take into consideration everything you've uncovered and learned from the first 3 steps and start to write down a general plan. Now is not the time to worry about the specifics like exercise variables, macro nutrient profiles, equipment brands, club memberships, blah, blah, blah. Using a calendar or referring to your planner can be helpful. You want to determine the type of exercise that would be best suited for you based on your goals and your preferences. Would it be best to join a gym or work out at home? Exercise alone or with a partner, or with a group? What time of day? Will you prepare your own food or use a service? Can you cook? Do you have the knowledge to set up your own life long diet by yourself? Other important considerations are your level of enthusiasm, your current fitness level and your exercise expertise. Once again, you may want to consider getting some assistance from a professional.
Also write down how much time you can seriously devote to an exercise program- how many minutes per day? How many days a week? Did you include the necessary changes for food preparation since the drive-thru is no longer part of your plan? Factor in your budget too.
Now after writing down this general plan you will have a good idea of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how often it needs to be done. Then you can start to think about the how it needs to be done(the detailed specifics.)
One reason many people abandon their New Year's resolutions to exercise regularly is simply because they don't like to do it. There can be many reasons why they don't like to exercise. One reason should not be because of the form of exercise or activity.
It's true that certain types of exercise will produce the best overall fitness results- intense strength training (lifting weights), running, stretching, but that doesn't mean you are limited to only those. What's going to work best for you is something you enjoy enough to stick with.
There's more than one way to strength train. If joining a gym doesn't sound appealing there are plenty of ways to get stronger, better toned muscles at home or outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The same applies to getting in your cardiovascular exercise. Walking, jogging, and/or running are usually the simplest for those just getting started but there are many fun activities you can do to get the heart rate up: basketball, tennis, DDR or other games in the same category, nature hiking, swimming, cycling or the many forms of group exercise.
The one thing I'd suggest to someone that thinks they don't like to exercise is to investigate the many different modes and activities, and give as many a try as you can. You're bound to come across something that you like. Once you find it you'll hopefully get hooked and stick with it. And the best part is that the more you do it the fitter you become and the more enjoyable that activity, and life, gets.
When you think of addictions the obvious ones come to mind- alcohol, street drugs, prescription drugs, and cigarettes. All of them will have adverse effects on your health, fitness, and workout adherence. These chemical dependencies usually require professional help to overcome, with cigarette smoking sometimes being the exception.
The addictions that I'm going to point out can have negative health implications but are ones that you should be able to kick on your own or work them into your fitness plan.
First you must identify them and then decide what type of action you need to take. Some of these addictions are time bandits, stealing away hours of your day. One of those hours can be devoted to a regular exercise program. Too much television, obsessive Facebook-ing, blogging, habitual console or computer gaming, or any other habit or hobby involving technology that seems to be taking over your life (and keeping you on your butt) are common addictions that you can break and free up time for working out, as long as you put some effort into it.
Some can be combined with a healthy activity.
There's no law stating that you need to be sitting still on your butt to watch TV or use the internet. Many cardio equipment makers realize this and have added built-in TVs and/or web browsers to the machines' console displays. Most console game companies are adopting motion activated gaming so it shouldn't be too difficult finding a game you enjoy that requires you to move more than your fingers and thumbs. For people that are hooked on watching live television I'd recommend using the commercial breaks as a cue to get up and perform some simple body weight exercises until the show comes back on. That's close to 20 minutes of exercise during a one hour show. It beats sitting down letting your muscles atrophy and bone density diminish while you snack away on excess calories!
Another addiction that definitely impacts your health, fitness and exercise performance is food. For some people this dependency is right up there with alcohol and drugs. If this is your case then you should consider seeking professional help. Maybe it isn't that serious of an addiction but you are noticing eating habits that have given you reasons to create health or fitness resolutions. And you can see how and why they are keeping you from reaching your resolutions. You've already completed the first step to handling this problem which is making yourself aware. Now it is up to you to find a suitable way to break the habit and replace it with something healthier if you are going to reach the goals you are working toward. Learning how to cook, discovering healthier and delicious food alternatives, or just forcing yourself to take control and make better decisions are simple, immediate things you can do to start to clean up your eating habits.
My previous post was about stating your resolutions as SMART goals. This next step is a simple mental exercise that will hopefully help you to place your goals higher on your priority list and keep you on the path to success.
Everything we do or avoid doing has some significance and its level of significance determines how, when and why it's done or not done. Take a look at the goals (resolutions) you created. Now starting with the most important goal ask yourself why that goal is important to you.
For most goals and most people it might be a very personal reason. Its importance may be a private matter to you that others may not understand, like entering and completing your first half marathon. The important thing is that you are aware why it's important to you. Other goals might be more obvious like a matter of life or death- lowering blood pressure levels, reducing large amounts of excess body fat to prevent or reverse life threatening conditions.
Now, whatever your answer is for the first question, you need to ask yourself why that reason is important. Is it simply a matter of not letting yourself down or not letting others down? Is it a need, want or lifelong dream that you have a burning desire to fulfill? And how badly do you need or want it?
Next ask yourself "What will be the consequences of not reaching my goal?", not just the short term consequences but long term. Keep in mind that as you age, the battle against time and nature makes it more difficult to achieve certain goals. Will it affect your physical health? Will your mental well being be impacted? Will you be fine putting it off until the next new year?
For those of you that are attempting to resolve the same thing(s) as last year or prior years it might benefit you to perform this exercise on paper. That way, when you start to slack off you can refer to what you wrote down. Reading about its importance to you in your own words might provide the inspiration and motivation to get you back on track toward reaching your goals.
Most resolutions are simple statements involving a change someone would like to do sometime in the coming year, or before February in some cases. Too often they are vague, generic hopes without any stated specifics. If you are going to take your goals serious you've got to treat them as you would any project or task that is important to you. The first step is deciding and being clear about what it is you intend to accomplish. One of the best ways to do this is to make your resolutions real goals and apply the acronym SMART to them.
S- Specific: If you were going to remodel your kitchen you'd have a very good idea of what you wanted done before any work was started. Treat your resolution the same way. Be very detailed about the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Saying you want to "lose weight" is too general. Pinpoint exactly what your intentions are: "lose 8" from my waist"; "fit into a size 8 dress"; "be able to wear size 34 pants, regardless of the style or brand." Be so specific that you can gauge your progress and know without doubt that you've accomplished your goal.
M- Measurable: If you can't gauge your progress you won't know if you're succeeding, failing, or have successfully reached your goal. Working out 30 minutes a day 4 days a week can be measured. Waist circumference, millimeters on a set of calipers, miles, RPMs, calories burned, and calories consumed are measurements you can track to keep you and your program on track.
A- Attainable: Be realistic. Don't expect major weight losses like you've seen on certain TV shows. Make sure your expectations are something you can truly accomplish. Just as if you were remodeling your kitchen you wouldn't set yourself up for disappointment by designing something that was way beyond your budget. Stay within your means.
R- Relevant to you: Is your goal applicable to your situation? If you've been leading a sedentary lifestyle for the past 10 years, running your first marathon by June is probably not only unattainable but also not relevant at this point. Especially if your dislike of running led to your sedentary ways.
T- Time Bound: If you've followed and applied the above steps you can give yourself an idea of when you should be able to accomplish your goals. Setting a deadline can help with accountability. Knowing you're under time restraints will give you less leeway to slack off. Back to the kitchen remodel example, you wouldn't find it acceptable if you hired someone and the project kept getting put off and was never finished in a reasonable amount of time. Don't allow this to happen with your health and fitness goals either.
One more thing in regards to setting goals is to break up your long term (ultimate) goal into smaller short term goals. Let's say you have a long term goal of reducing your waistline by eight inches by Thanksgiving. This goal is specific and measurable- 8" by 24 November 2011, not just "lose my gut." If you indeed have have an extra 8" of fat on your waist it's attainable and definitely relevant to your situation, especially if you have other goals like lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure. You've made it time bound by setting a specific date to reach the goal. The next step is to take this goal and break it up into smaller goals- inches at a time within specific time frames. For example, "by March 1st I will have lost 2" from my waist by exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and cutting soda pop out of my diet."
Make sense? If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section.
As you may know I don't like the idea of making resolutions at the first of the year but I realize many people make them. I know that many of those resolutions involve exercise and fitness. So rather than leave some people in need of help to struggle, get frustrated and give up until 1 January 2012 I'm going to offer some advice and tips that will hopefully keep or get you back on track. I don't want you to have to make the same resolution again next January. Check back tomorrow for my first tip.
They're at it again. "They" being the unscrupulous fitness marketers that tell tall tales to make their products sound better. The most recent one I've come across is for the Perfect Sit up, which by the way is designed for doing crunches, not sit ups. It comes from the same inventor of the Perfect Push Up(as if that exercise alone wasn't perfect enough!)
The commercial claims it will work your "lower abs." Not you'll feel it in the lower part of your abs but it will “activate the hard to reach, deep lower abs" as if you have a muscle in your body who's name is specifically "Lower Abs." The problem is you don't have lower abs any more than you have lower hamstrings or lower glutes.
The coveted, well publicized six-pack muscle group is the rectus abdominus. They're long, flat (I'm referring to the muscles themselves, not the entire belly!) muscles that connect (originate) at the pubic symphysis (the joint at the front of the pelvis) and run vertically up the front of your trunk to connect (insert) at the xyphoid process (think CPR chest compressions reference point) and the cartilage of the 5th, 6th, and 7th ribs, and are separated VERTICALLY by the linea alba ( the up and down line when looking at a six-pack.) The three horizontal lines are created by tendinous inscriptions. Oh, and they're made visible by exercising and eating right, both in the correct amounts! You don't have an upper set of abs that go from the bottom of the chest down to the belly button and another that goes from the navel down to your privates, each with their own separate function. That's what some infomercials would lead you to believe. The entire rectus abdominus has the main functions of helping to stabilize the spine and to flex the spine. Where the initiation of flexion occurs usually determines the region of greatest stimulation. In other words, the part of your body that starts moving your spine into flexion will determine the part of the abs that you feel working the hardest. Do a regular crunch and the abs will feel as if the area closest to the rib cage is working harder than the portion closest to the hips. Perform a reverse crunch and you'll probably notice the opposite. Do either version correctly and you will feel the entire rectus abdominus doing its job.
As far as the Perfect Sit Up gadget I have no opinion. The crunch, like the push up is already a great exercise by itself. I'm sure some people will find the contraption beneficial. But in my opinion if you're looking for home exercise equipment to enhance basic push ups or basic crunches I can recommend one piece of equipment that improves them both- a stability ball.