Neighbourhood Lifestyle Desk: The road to a fit, fabulous body isn’t short. But if you take one small step a day to improve your diet and workout habits, you may be amazed at how quickly you reach your destination! Click on the calendar below for a full month’s worth of practical advice that will help you get swimsuit-ready by summer:
Day One: There’s no question: It can be difficult to drag yourself to the gym when you’re feeling beat from head to toe. But if you shirk your workout, you’ll never know whether exercise would have energized you. A better strategy: Stick with the 10-minute rule. Force yourself to exercise for at least 10 minutes. If at that point you still feel exhausted, give yourself permission to stop. But in all likelihood, exercise will help you feel better and you’ll choose to keep going.
Day Two: Skipping meals and cutting calories will not improve your body; it will hinder your fat-burning. This is especially true for women, who are natural fat-stores. The less often you eat, the more likely your body is to hoard fat.
Day Three: Your exercise clothing should be something you enjoy putting on. It will cheer you up, give you the positive affirmation to take better care of yourself and put you in the right frame of mind for your workouts. You may be self-conscious at first about revealing your body and choose big T-shirts and other cover-ups as a result. But if you’re heavy, it’s important to have the kind of clothing that protects skin from rubbing against skin. It may be better to wear clothing that is somewhat form-fitting so that the body folds are covered and protected.
Day Four: Physical Activity — The Larger Picture:
- Less-strenuous activities, when performed for longer periods of time, are just as beneficial as vigorous activities.
- All women should get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day.
- Brisk walking, recreational swimming, canoeing, vacuuming and weight training are all good examples of moderate-intensity activity.
Day Five: Exercise is an important part of any weight-loss program. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours a day taking aerobics classes. Just get out and start moving. My motto is, ‘Be fit, not fanatic.’
Day Six: Portions of food in restaurants are often much too large. Don’t always finish everything you are served. Consider splitting dishes with fellow diners, taking the excess home or just leaving it on the plate.
Day Seven: Many women work at jobs that require hours of sitting. The more you sit, the more you need to move around. Physical movement pumps oxygen throughout the bloodstream so it can nourish the joints and surrounding soft tissue. Give yourself a much-needed break and stand up, stretch and move around at least once every hour throughout the day. You’ll feel better — and your body will function better, too.
Day Eight: Use pepper and spices instead [of salt] to give your food that added flavour. Spicy food slows you down: You simply can’t wolf down highly seasoned food the way you can wolf down bland dishes. And, by slowing down your pace, you tend to eat less.
Day Nine: Choose stairs over elevators. If there are many flights of stairs where you work, climb one flight of stairs for three weeks; increase the number of flights by one every three weeks. Or walk up and down the stairs in your home three to five extra times each day.
Day Ten: A basic guideline is to exercise at a level that allows you to talk and sweat at the same time. If you can’t talk, you’re exercising too hard and should slow down, even if you’re within your target heart rate (THR). If you are within your THR and can sing or whistle while exercising, you are not working hard enough, so you should increase your exertion to the higher end of the THR scale.
Day Eleven: A basic guideline is to exercise at a level that allows you to talk and sweat at the same time. If you can’t talk, you’re exercising too hard and should slow down, even if you’re within your target heart rate (THR). If you are within your THR and can sing or whistle while exercising, you are not working hard enough, so you should increase your exertion to the higher end of the THR scale.
Day Twelve: Research shows that sedentary people can increase their lifespans by up to three years simply by moving more throughout the day.
Day Thirteen: Having a support system can make your weight-control efforts easier and help you stay on track…. The right person can lend an ear when the going gets tough, pepper you with compliments and cheer you on.
Day Fourteen: Clients are always asking for exercises to minimize (the butt). Fact: There is no such thing as a spot-reduction exercise. As with the abdominal, you could have the firmest glutenous maximum in the world, but if a layer of fat covers it, no one will see it. A good cardiovascular and general strengthening program that addresses your overall fitness is the best way to get tight buttocks.
Day Fifteen: The brain requires 20 minutes to register that the body is nutritionally satisfied; therefore, eat slowly. Enjoy your food!
Day Sixteen: Your metabolism functions better when you’re fully hydrated. A strong metabolism requires a lot of water…. Water drives all the chemical reactions that are needed to burn calories both at rest and during exercise.
Day Seventeen: It’s never too late to start reducing the amount of fat in your diet. Here’s how:
* Cut the fat off meat (or use lean cuts of meat). Remove the skin from chicken.
* Use minimal amounts of fat in cooking, or substitute with vegetable sprays.
* Use non-stick cookware.”
Day Eighteen: Muscle toning is the key to your fountain of youth. If you have firm, toned, tight muscles, nothing can droop or sag. Keeping your muscles firm will help prevent the pull of gravity.”
Day Nineteen: Muscles that are strengthened should be stretched, and vice versa. An intense strength workout can cause micro-trauma to the muscles, and the process of recovery can shorten the muscles and connective tissue. Stretching prevents this shortening that can contribute to muscle strains or other overuse injuries (e.g., tendinitis, fasciitis).”
Day Twenty: Trying to figure out what is the right amount to eat during a diet can become a challenge and an annoyance. Of course, you’re not about to bring out the diet scale at the table in order to figure your portion size. However, your hand can tell you all you need to know. Your palm is the size of a three-ounce portion of meat. Your fist is a cup, while your thumb is just about right for one ounce.
Day Twenty-One: With its emphasis on flexibility, yoga is an ideal complementary exercise for someone starting out in his or her fitness career or returning to it after an extended break, as well as for the more mature exerciser who is entering the latter part of his or her fitness career.
Day Twenty-Two: Weight-loss drugs don’t work without lifestyle changes. Appetite-suppressant medication must be combined with physical activity and a calorie-reduced diet. Think of these medications as aids in — not substitutes for — your weight-loss program.
Day Twenty-Three: A few pointers for proper running technique:
- Focus on your posture: Your abdominal should be pulled in, your shoulders relaxed.
- Keep your arms close to your body. Swinging your arms wildly will only use up energy. Your hands should be close to the middle of your body.
- Run from heel to toe with a comfortable stride length. Don’t land flat-footed!
Day Twenty-Four: One benefit of a diet high in fruits and vegetables may be lower blood pressure. In a study, known as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), participants ate a diet low in fat (less than 30% of daily calories), and high in fruits and vegetables (eight to 10 servings a day) and grains (seven to eight servings). At the end of the study, the systolic blood pressure readings (the top number) dropped an average of 11 points. The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) dropped more than five points.
Day Twenty-Five: Success comes down to one word: Focus. The one surefire strategy is to focus your energy on one single healthy habit at a time — to learn why that particular habit is so important and practice adapting it to your tastes and preferences.
Day Twenty-Six: Food isn’t the enemy; sitting still is.
Day Twenty-Seven: Protein and weight control. …replacing some calories from carbohydrate with those from protein is widely promoted as a strategy for losing weight or keeping weight steady. There are two reasons why this may be more effective than a low-calorie, high-carbohydrate diet: First, chicken, beef, fish, beans or other high-protein foods slow down the movement of the food from the stomach to the intestine and also cause relatively small, steady increases in blood sugar. Slower stomach emptying means you feel full longer. Second, protein’s rather gentle, steady effect on blood sugar avoids the quick, steep rise in blood sugar and just-as-quick hunger-bell-ringing fall that occurs after eating a rapidly digested carbohydrate such as white bread or a baked potato.
Day Twenty-Eight: Stress can make you fat. The stress hormone cortisol leads to carbohydrate cravings and overeating, as well as to abdominal fat.
Day Twenty-Nine: Fat-free does not equal calorie-free. Many no-fat or low-fat foods have very high levels of sugar, which can up the calorie content of foods significantly. In addition, there is a tendency for people to eat larger portions of fat-free foods, thereby increasing the number of calories consumed.
Day Thirty: Always train a muscle over its full range of motion. This allows you to achieve more forceful muscular contractions. There is a direct correlation between the amount of applied force and muscular development; the greater the force, the better your development. Hence, only by working a muscle over its full range will optimal results be attained.”