Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The Interrelated Components 
of Fitness

Let's assume you have been working out for a year or more and your progress in fitness seems to have stalled.  Weight seems to be harder to lose, the waist is bigger than it should be, and the initial change in your body has slowed to a snail's pace.  It's time to recognize what fitness is all about, how to obtain it and how to improve where you live, mainly in YOUR body.  Consider the following facts:
  1. The amount of energy in 1 lb. of fat is 3500 calories.  If the machine you use (i.e., a treadmill) has a heart rate monitor and you use it for 1/2 hour, maybe you'll burn off 300 calories.  Maybe! If you have a snack of cookies or ice cream, cake, etc., you'll realize that 300 calories amounts to next to nothing.  So exercise is not the best way to lose fat.  A proper diet is and what you have to consume so eat good food and leave the pastry at the market.  Cut your portions roughly 50% but eat smaller meals more frequently.  Six smaller meals spaced thought the day will keep your energy up and your hunger pains down.
  2. Think of exercising on a regular basis to maintain your musculature and the health of all your organs.  Exercising is like playing a violin.  When you're new to the instrument, you'll "fiddle" with it.  Keep at it and eventually beautiful "music" will be your reward.  Don't think of exercise as drudgery, but as an item like food, water, and sleep.  Weave it into your daily life and you'll look forward to each workout.
  3. Developing your muscles helps you to lose fat.  If you exercise on a regular basis you will increase your metabolic rate.  As you add muscle to your body, you'll burn more fat because muscle tissue requires a lot of energy just to be a major part of your body.  Less muscle = lower metabolic rate = less energy = more stored fat = your life as a couch potato (let's hope not)!
  4. Be sure your diet is relatively free of highly processed foods, coke, pop, candy, pastry and most fast foods.  You don't need calories without nutrition.  
  5. Have a high fiber diet.  The Mediterranean Diet is an example of a food source with adequate fiber. Also try to have some protein with each meal.  Drink plenty of fluids, but mostly water. 
  6. Do weight bearing exercises.  As we grow older, our bones become weaker and with less density.  Weight lifting, strength training, and bodybuilding are all good examples of weight bearing exercising. 
  7. Some people think that by reducing carbohydrates one will burn more fat.  The problem is that when carbs are reduced in amount consumed, the rate of fat metabolism slows down and this is not what you want.  Also, fat then is burned into acidic fat know as ketone. Ketones, in high amounts, are dangerous and are so acidic they can kill cells.  As a result, fat loss slows and muscle tissue loss increases.  This is not what you want as one of the real purposes of exercise is the building up of the muscles in your body.  The answer is to continue to eat carbs, the right kind and that includes  more of the complex carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) and less of the sugar containing-nutritionally deficient, calorie loaded junk food.
  8. Vary your training to confuse your muscles.  This will also help you to progress up the slope of fitness and not stagnate into a plateau of, "I'm not getting anywhere in my training - why?" Increase the intensity of your workouts by doing more reps with lower weight and fewer reps with more weight.  The number of reps should be between 5 and 15.  Increase the rate of your movements and/or slow them down but always do enough sets of each exercise to warm the muscles involved, increase the resistance in following sets, and work to failure in your final set.
  9. To control blood sugar and help prevent type 2 diabetes, include some protein, fat and carbohydrate into each meal, eat smaller amounts of food, but attempt to keep the blood insulin level on an even keel.  Insulin helps to maintain a more constant glucose blood level.  That means no high sugar containing snacks, especially in large amounts. Think of regular exercise as your best medicine for sugar control!  
"We love it when she does squats"!

Monday, July 21, 2014

"You don't always get what you wish for.  You get what you work for."

Is Exercise Important for 
Weight Loss?

The three major types of foods humans eat are carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  All three of them can be used to provide energy but it's mainly the carbs that provide the fastest energy. Fats are necessary for some hormonal balance and act as carriers for the important fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and all the carotenoids.  There are unhealthy fats that consists of trans-fats and saturated fats.  There are other functions of fats but as related to weight loss fat provides 9 calories /gram and for each gram of protein or carbohydrates, the count comes to 4 calories.  So since calories are a big factor in obesity, keep the fat count down.  A diet of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30 % fat is a safe solution.  However, this can vary and it depends on a number of factors.  Is there a lot of sugar in the diet, processed foods, soft drinks, alcohol, etc.?  A more complete explanation of diet was posted on March 10, 2014.  It was called, "The Mediterranean Diet: Part 2" - this blog. The percentages given relate to a "clean" diet, without excess sugars, alcohol, processed food and most fast foods.

The proteins are the building blocks for muscle tissue, enzymes, and antibodies - pretty important stuff!

Exercise should play a very important part in your quest for a toned, firm body, devoid of excess fat. If you eat smaller portions, a balanced diet, and get 8 hours of sound sleep, you're on the right track. Dieting without exercise may reduce your weight but a good part of the weight loss is muscle tissue. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue and the more muscular you are the higher will be your metabolism.  If you are a couch potato, your metabolism is probably low meaning that whatever you eat may very well end up in more fat.  If you are muscular, you'll have a higher metabolic rate and that means you will burn more calories even at rest.

So you should have some cardiovascular exercise which causes  you to breathe harder and increases your heart rate.  This will improve your heart health and also act as an aid in burning off excess calories.

Strength training (resistance training) helps build muscle, bone density, and improve the contour of your body. You may even become an "animal" if you're a man and a "fox" if you are a female!

If you are consistent in your workouts, do them with increasing intensity, you should have no need to go on yo-yo dieting binges.  Start exercising in an "easy mode".  No need to compete with anyone. Learn the proper form for each exercise and plan to workout the major muscle groups; legs, chest, back, arms, shoulders, and abs.  Include core exercises.

Does this count as leg lifts?

Does This Count as Leg Lifts?

Monday, July 14, 2014


“Sweat like a pig
To look like a fox”

How to Choose a Personal Trainer

If you plan to use a personal trainer to help train you during your workouts you should prepare yourself as to the qualities you’re looking for in your future “coach.” What you’re looking for is someone who makes you feel comfortable enough to accept their instruction and guidance.  You want to tell them what you want to improve, what your goals are, and what health factors have to be considered, if any.  Do you get short of breath, do you want to lose weight, how about firming your body, etc., etc.?  Your trainer can help you achieve your goals and he/she should also be a motivator. Let’s consider the following items:
  • Is the trainer an NCCA-accredited certification holder?  The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) has 26 years of experience accrediting many allied health professions such as nurses, dietitians, athletic trainers and occupational therapists.  You can check on the trainer's credential's by visiting www.noca.org and then clink on the NCCA link. Some of the more popular and established accredited organizations include The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).  Also how long has he been actively training clients?
  • Discuss with the trainer his/her work experience and area of specialization.  Is the trainer able to consult with your doctor if you have any medical problems that he should be aware of?
  • Does the trainer have any letters of recommendation from former clients?  Would he mind if you contacted any of them on the phone?  How about previous employers that he has worked for as a certified personal trainer?
  • Does he carry a professional liability insurance policy?  Does the gym he works for carry liability insurance?
  • Does the trainer seem to have patience and interest in what the two of you are discussing? If he doesn't "mesh" with your personality, don't get involved and look for another trainer that you think will fill you requirements.........with a smile on his face!
  • Does the trainer exhibit professionalism?  Try and watch how he trains someone else before deciding on agreeing to become his client.  Does he look interested in his client or just count reps?  Does he teach or spend time on other matters relating to fitness?.  Does he use your time to talk on his cell phone to someone else?
  • What is his background in his area of expertise?  Does he prefer younger clients?  How about seniors?  Try to find someone who feels comfortable and experienced in your age group of clients.
  • If you offer him your phone number and/or your email address, can you expect his help in educating you on matters of fitness, diet, and exercise?  Clients, at least some of them, can further their understanding of all matters relative to fitness via e-mail.  Good trainers should appreciate your interest in what you're receiving from him.
  • How does he monitor his client's training progress?  Does her review his findings with you in person or by way of an e-mail?
  • What are his fees for his instruction?  How does he count for broken and missed appointments?What happens if he is late or forgets your appointment?
If you approach your prospective teacher with a check list or questionnaire, you may save yourself from future problems.  All matters that come to your mind regarding your training should be answered in a friendly manner and concern for you as his client.  After all, it's your money and your training should be worth what the fees are!  Good luck and best wishes for your progress in all matters of fitness.

Go hard or go home

Monday, July 7, 2014

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"You can't lose weight without exercise. But I've got a philosophy about exercise. I don't think you should punish your legs for something your mouth did. Drag your lips around the block once or twice."

A Planned & Scientific Approach
to Exercise
Part 2

Before we continue on with Part 2 please be informed of the following posts and their dates of posting in this blog.  Each of these previous articles are relevant to Part 1 and 2 of "A Planned & Scientific Approach to Exercise".  When you go to this blog and open it, look on the right side of the page to see Blog Archive.  You can find these articles by their posting date and/or their title:

  1. Training For Beginners.  Posted Nov.18, 2013.
  2. For The Beginner - Part 2  Posted Nov. 25, 2013
  3. Heart Rate Monitors.  Posted Dec. 02, 2013
  4. Strength Training For Seniors.  Posted Mar. 18, 2014
As stated in Part 1 of this "Approach", do the type of exercising that interests you and that you like to do.  Over the years that I've been working out, strength training (AKA resistance training or bodybuilding) and cardio exercises are what I do now.  This is not necessarily what you can or should do as it depends on your physical shape, your health status, and experience in your form of exercising.  I am listing, as an example, what I do on workout days and how I arrange to train the various muscle groups.

Each workout lasts from 30 minutes to an hour. I do not warm up on any cardio machine or do side-straddle hopping.  My warm ups consists of 2 or 3 sets of each exercise using increasing amounts of resistance (weight).  The 3rd set I use enough weight to do 5 to 12 reps but the number is not as important as it is to work until failure.  That means another rep at the same weight is now not possible for you to complete.  I then do another set, called a drop-set and it consists of removing some of the weight, say by 25-50%, and then do as may reps as possible, again to failure.  So here you can see that "warming up" on a treadmill or elliptical trainer is not really specific enough to warm up the muscles you are going to train.

The following muscle groups should be exercised once/week and, depending on the numbers of days you can or want to work out, you can use the following lists of muscle groups in your training plan:
  1. Legs (calves, quadriceps, hamstrings).
  2. Back (upper and lower back - from the neck to the lumbar region).
  3. Chest (pecs, over the head extensions on a bench, side raises with dumbbells, chest pressing with both dumbbells and barbells).
  4. Arms and shoulders, upper/lower including biceps, triceps, forearms, dips, curls, with dumbbells and barbells).
  5. Abs and core exercises using benches, stability balls, crunches, etc.
  6. Cardio training on treadmills, elliptical trainers, running, step machines, stationery bikes.
Example of my schedule:  
                 Monday; Legs only
                 Tuesday;  Back and Chest
                 Wednesday; Interval training on a treadmill - no weight training.
                 Thursday;  Arms upper and lower(forearms) and shoulders.
                 Friday;  Abs and core exercises.
                 Saturday; Interval training on a treadmill - no weight training.
                 Sunday; Off!

Note:  The success of any workout routine is based on adequate sleep and good nutrition. Also, as stated previously, training to failure should not be attempted by beginners.  In working out as a new trainee, try to learn the proper form and technique for each exercise you do.  After you feel that you can progress further, they your final set and do your reps until failure.  That means that you cannot do another rep!