Thursday, November 24, 2011

Don't Be "BITR" about Exercise... HAVE FUN!

In my August post, I mentioned that the four primary reasons people don't exercise are boredom, injury, time and results. If you look at the first letter of each word it spells BITR... Ok, it is not spelled correctly... just get hooked on phonics for a minute and pronounce it BITTER. Being a huge fan of acronyms, I created one to explain how we can "sweeten" exercise by learning how to HAVE FUN!

H - Make it a habit.  Exercise only on the days you choose to eat!
A - Avoid the terrible too's.  Start slowly and progress gradually!
V - Prevent boredom & overuse injuries, select a variety of activities
E - You have to select exercise you enjoy!

F - Focus on safety.  Get the ok from your doctor!
U -Understand the FITT principle.  Get guidance from a fitness professional and learn the principles of exercise... frequency, intensity, type and time.
N - Nutrition.  Exercising does not give you a license to eat whatever you want... eat like an athlete!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When is the Best Time to Workout?

This is a very common question. My initial response is, "whatever time works best for you!"  However, each time of day has its pluses and minuses. Research tells us that those that exercise in the morning are more consistent with their workouts. This is due to the reduced likelihood of interruptions or distractions interfering with your workout.  The downside to morning workouts is your body temperature is at its lowest a just before you wake up so you may find yourself struggling to get started. From a physiological standpoint, the afternoon is probably the best time of day to exercise.  In other words, your workout will be better... you'll be faster, stronger, etc.  Afternoon workouts can be a great way to break up the day and recharge your battery. The downside is that those distractions and interruptions you can avoid with a.m. workouts always seem to appear just when you grab your gym bag. Evening workouts may help you "burn off" the stress and forget the problems of your day. Be aware, there is still a chance of missing your workout because of unplanned disruptions. However, be sure you don't workout to close to bedtime because you may find yourself struggling to fall asleep.  To prevent this tossing and turning, try to give yourself a couple of hours to unwind after you exercise. So, experiment and find the best time of day for you to exercise!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stress Management: The Power of the "P"

For the past 20 years or so, I have been encouraging folks to use the following Stress Response Emergency Checklist.  So, in case of a stress emergency, remain calm and refer to the list below:

Perception - I hate to say it, but stress is self-generated. The intensity of your stress response is determined by your perception of the stressor. Stress tends to blur our perception... thus the saying "making mountains out of molehills." So, if you are feeling stress... change your perception!

Perspective - Call a "time-out"... step back and take a look at the event's relationship to your whole life.  Interrogate yourself... 1) What is the worst that can happen... be honest?, 2) In the scheme of life, is this really important?, 3) A year from now, who will care?

Positive - Time for a little self-talk... you've got to believe in you! Surround yourself with fun, positive people!  Take time to laugh... afterall, it is the best medicine!

Physical - The quickest way to counteract the stress response... Move, Stretch, and Breathe... deeply and slowly! Stressed out because you cannot resolve a problem... take a walk and let your mind wander... don't be surprised if the answer pops into your head before you are finished!

Prepared - To prevent or minimize future stress emergencies, begin by taking care of yourself... eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of sleep.  Anticipate stressful situations... rehearse and visualize how you will respond.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do you really love your family??

Have you read the book, Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get a Life by Larry Winget? Larry is known as the Pitbull of Personal Development! He has a very "in your face" style. My favorite part of the book is when he questions the reader about how much he/she really loves their family.  He challenges the reader with comments like, "Do you love them enough to get healthy?"  "Enough to do what it takes to live as long as you can so you can take care of them and enjoy them?" or "... is that Twinkie more important to you than your kids?"

If you are struggling to make changes to your diet, adding exercise to your schedule or giving up cigarettes, I encourage you to get this book and read pages 90 and 91 first thing in the morning... every day!

Thanks, Larry... I appreciate the slap in the face!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful (or it will be soon enough!)

As the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall, so does our enthusiasm to exercise.  Too often the idea of stepping out into the frosty air to exercise causes most of us to put our fitness program on hold during the winter weather.  But don't worry, if you incorporate the following tips, you can exercise safely, enjoyably and successfully in whatever artic conditions Mother Nature sends your way.

Don't Overdress
The most common mistake isn't that exercisers wear too little clothing... it's that they wear too much.  Use the "Plus 25 degrees" rule.  For example, if you are going to exercise on a 25-degree day, dress for about 50-degrees.  If you don't feel at least slightly chilled when you step outside, you are already overdressed!

Layers, But Not Too Many
You should wear no more than three layers on your upper body and two layers on your lower body.  The first layer should be a thermal undergarment made of a fabric that draws sweat away from the skin, such as polypropylene.  The second layer should be a wool sweater or turtleneck for your upper body and sweat pants or Lycra tights for the legs.  The outside layer can be a waterproof, wind-resistant, breathable jacket.

Cover All Exposed Skin
On windy, chilly days, a hat, which conserves a significant percentage of the body's heat is a must.  Wear mittens instead of gloves.  If you don't have mittens, wear a heavy pair of sweat socks on your hands.

Zip It
Wear clothes that can be adjusted if you become too hot or too cold.  For example, a hooded sweatshirt with a zipper is more versatile than a pullover sweatshirt.

Watch The Wind
Plan your exercise route so that you start facing the wind and end in the same direction as the wind.  You'll want to face the worst encounter while you are still fresh and dry to decrease exposure to wind chill effects.

Limber Up Longer
During your winter exercise excursions, spend more time than normal warming up.  Warm-up and stretch before you head outside.

Be On The Defensive
Shorter daylight hours, poor visibility and the risk of sliding cars can make your run, walk or ride very hazardous to your health.  Wear bright clothing, a reflective vest or reflective strips if exercising at night.  Do not run or walk in icy conditions.

Drink Up
Just because the weather outside is chilly does not mean you shouldn't drink plenty of water.  You lose just as much body fluid during your icy winter workouts  as in the summer.