The Most Awesome Workout Ever

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It was the year 1899 when then commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents Charles H. Duell declared, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” From our perspective 118 years later it seems absolutely ridiculous that someone who had so much access to the world of innovation could make such a statement.

Is your fitness and nutritional knowledge similar, or on par with what Duell thought regarding innovation back in 1899?

Have you concluded, based on what you “know”, that someone your age and current physical condition simply cannot change your physique or alter your metabolism? I would like you to think again as science continues to evolve and, in recent years has only begun to think differently. It wasn’t that long ago we were all impressed watching Rocky Balboa crack five raw eggs into a glass so he could increase his protein intake but, science has since proved a cooked egg harbors far more nutritional value than a raw one! So, if you’re drinking raw eggs and think you’re making gains, the fact is you’re not. Now I don’t know of anyone who is drinking raw eggs any longer but the point is, it’s time to disregard old workout myths and nutritional knowledge and replace them with some new scientific fact.

One of the old workout myths that may be keeping you away from the weights is that you need to lift hours upon hours, every day of the week. Well, the good news is that’s just not the case. In the pursuit of healthy fitness your body has three simple requirements: Exercise, Fuel, (in the form of food), and Rest-lots of rest! The primary focus of this blog is exercise so I’ll key in on that but you need to understand, the old way of thinking of over exerting ourselves, or “stop when you drop” is quite simply not true.

Contrary to what you may believe, weight training or “resistance exercise” has much more to offer than an overall increase in muscle size. Resistance training causes an increase in your body’s metabolism AND a decrease in body fat all while increasing its lean muscle mass. As discussed in one of my previous blogs, the reduction in caloric intake without resistance training simply teaches our bodies to store fuel in the form of adipose fat tissue, (as future emergency energy stores), while eating away at its own lean muscle mass for its current energy requirements. In other words, if you don’t use your muscles, you’ll lose them! Our bodies literally cannibalize themselves in order to preserve energy in the form of fat as, when dieting, (or caloric intake reduction), we are actually training our bodies to store fat for future energy needs. So, contrary to common belief we MUST eat AND resistance exercise to lose excess body fat!

So now that we know we need to work our muscle to lose fat, let me share my personal experience how I lost 20 pounds of adipose fat tissue and gained 6 pounds of lean muscle in just 6 months.

Like you may be, I was one who came to the conclusion that I simply do not have the genetic makeup to be lean. I always considered myself athletic, I just never had an athletic look, (do I sound like Duell back in 1899???). It was time to make a change. In order to do so I began to read and study. I took what I learned and prescribed a workout formula specific to my personal need. I hung up the bike and running shoes and hit the weights. Here are some interesting facts I learned throughout my research.

Our muscles are comprised of three different types of muscle fibers, each having its own primary function. The proportions of these three muscle fibers vary within each individual person AND within each individual muscle themselves. Genetics determines muscle fiber dominance. Let’s look at all three and find out what they do.

White Fast Twitch, or type IIb muscle fiber is responsible for strength and explosiveness. It is this muscle fiber that gives us muscle size. Work this muscle fiber exclusively if an increase in muscle size is desired. Athletes who possess natural ability for explosive movements required in such sports as sprinting and weightlifting are white fast twitch muscle dominant. To increase muscle size, resistance training requires using a weight heavy enough to be moved in the 4-6 rep range to exhaustion. If you can’t move the weight 4 times, you need to lighten the weight, if you can move the weight beyond 6 times, you’ll need to increase the weight-it’s that simple.

Red Fast Twitch, or type IIa muscle fibers are responsible for sustaining loads over a relatively prolonged period of time. People who genetically have more red fast twitch muscle fibers are best suited to play sport requiring stamina such as boxing, football, or basketball. To improve stamina, work your muscles in the weight room using a weight allowing 12-15 repetitions per set.

Red Slow Twitch, or type I muscle fibers provide energy over long periods of times and are best suited for endurance events such as long distance running and cycling. Exclusively work this muscle fiber in the weight room if it is weight loss desired and improving your long-distance endurance while not increasing muscle size. Using a weight allowing repetition ranges of 20-25 times is the weight required to work these muscle fibers.

I learned each of the three muscle fiber types provide a unique purpose from its other two counterparts but when called upon they can all work in unison. For my own specific purpose, I determined I wanted to lean up AND increase muscle size and stamina. I decided I needed to work all three. Sounds like a lot of work? It’s not. The National Federation of Professional Trainers, (NFPT), suggests working all three muscle fiber types in a single workout. Holistic training was the work out prescription for me.

The trick to working each muscle fiber within the same workout is to exhaust one muscle fiber before moving along to the next one. One must start with the biggest muscle fiber and work your way down the ladder. If muscle fibers are worked in the reverse order it would be easy to exhaust your red slow twitch muscle fibers recruiting your red fast twitch muscle fibers to take over the load. This is exactly what you must avoid.

So, let’s use a chest press as our example workout. Perform two warm up sets using a weight approximately 60% of the weight you plan on using for your heavy set. I perform 10-12 repetitions using slow and deliberate form. After your warm up, load up the bar to a weight you will be able to move 4-6 times before exhaustion. Always use a workout partner as a spotter to ensure your safety. Perform the first set to exhaustion. If you were able to do more than 6 reps, add weight to the bar, couldn’t do 4 reps, remove weight from the bar. This is an absolutely critical component of this work out. Now, rest three minutes and perform the set one more time.

During your next 3-minute rest, remove enough weight from the bar so you’ll be able to perform 12-15 reps for your next two sets. Remember, always take a three-minute rest to flush out your muscles making certain to drink water. Now that you have successfully exhausted your white fast twitch muscle fibers it is only your red fast twitch which can be recruited to move the new, lighter weight. Complete two sets here, lighten the bar one final time to a weight that you’ll be able to complete two final sets at 20-25 reps. The last set sounds easy but you’ll find these last two sets are the hardest. Your muscles will be filled with lactic acid which will not be allowed to be flushed out of your muscles until you put the weight down. You will feel a burn like you haven’t felt in years!

I work 5 different muscle groups for each work out. I am able to perform all repetitions as described in just 75 minutes. Stay focused and the time flies.

Day 1 and day 3 I work this exact set as described. Day 1 is chest and shoulders, Day 3 is back and legs. On days 5 and 6 I work the same muscle groups but instead of the holistic work out as described above I work my red slow twitch muscle fibers exclusively as weight loss is my primary goal. 5 sets of each muscle group done in reps of 20-25 is a fun and demanding workout. Obviously, diet plays a role in order to achieve desired results but we will discuss that in a future blog.

After years of running and performing long distance athletics I have finally achieved the physique I had always hoped for. My current body fat percentage is at 9 percent, pretty good for a 57-year-old!

Lose The Weight, Gain The Muscle Part II

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In previous blogs, I discussed glucose as your bodies preferred source of fuel, or energy for daily activity. You now know our bodies convert ingested carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar. Ingest too many carbohydrates and excess glucose will eventually get stored as triglycerides in your adipose fat tissue resulting in unwanted body fat.

You also know your body protects its fat stores for future energy needs against a potential starvation event. Your body will cannibalize its own muscle to use as energy before utilizing its precious energy stores which reside in your adipose fat tissue cells. You MUST use your muscles so your body will bypass this cannibalizing process and use its fat stores for it’s go to energy source.

“Resistance training”, or using your muscles does not require lifting weights. No intimidating gym visits needed here. In fact, no weights are required at all. Let’s talk about using our own body weight as the weight needed to obtain a leaner and healthier you.

In his book, “The Primal Blueprint,” Mark Sission talks about, what he calls, “Primal Essential Movements”. He recommends four body weight exercises which work all the major muscles in your body and promote functional fitness for daily life activities. At the same time, you will be teaching your body to convert and utilize its fat stores for its energy needs leading to a leaner and healthier you.

So, what are these four body resistance exercises? Push-ups, squats, planks, and pull-ups. Haven’t done these exercises since your high school or college days? Don’t worry, we can alter each exercise to suit your current physical ability and you’ll find that they are easier to do than you may think.

Let’s start with push-ups. We all think a push up is done from a starting position on the floor making them very difficult to do. Let’s go to the stairs. Facing a set of stairs, place your toes close to the bottom stair while placing your hands on the fourth stair from the bottom. Now do a push up. You’ll find these easier to do as you have transferred most of your weight to your feet relieving your shoulders from doing most of the work. Start with 5 sets of a quantity you can maintain for each of the 5 sets. Work your way up to doing 12-15 repetitions for each of the 5 sets taking a three-minute rest in between sets. Has your heart rate increased? If you answered yes, that’s great. Increase in your heart rate is important. Don’t let your heart rate elevate too much, you want to be able to hold a normal conversation while your heart rate is slightly elevated. Now, once you are able to perform 5 sets, move down one stair eventually working your way to placing your hands on the floor. Are you able to perform 5 sets of 12-15 repetitions while flat on the floor? Turn around and place your feet on the first stair from the floor and challenge yourself. Work your way up the stairs placing your feet higher. It is important that you are able to complete all 5 sets but they must be challenging. Remember, we are teaching our body it needs its muscles so it will not eat away at our muscles for its energy needs. Challenge yourself.

Planks. Lay on the ground, elbows on the ground shoulder width apart hands extended out in front of you, palms flat on the floor. Legs behind you spaced comfortably apart, toes pointed down. Now, raise up on your toes and elbows in a stiff body position. Work your way to being able to hold this position for 30 seconds. Take a 3-minute break in between sets and work our way up to 5 sets at 30 seconds each set. Once you have been able to perform 5 sets at 30 seconds, work your way up to 45 seconds, then 1 minute. Your goal is to master the plank for 2 minutes. You will feel your core tighten up, your back and glutes will be challenged working your large muscle groups. Are you sweating? Good!

Squats. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, extend your arms straight in front of you, palms facing down. Hold this position while lowering your butt as low as you can go. Try to get your thighs parallel with the ground before standing back up. It’s ok to put a chair or a stool behind you until you become comfortable with the movement and gain confidence in your ability. Work your way up to 5 sets of 25 repetitions. You’ll feel a burn in your quads which is exactly what you want.

Pull-ups. Pull ups require the most strength of these four exercises but don’t worry, there are ways around everything. Search “resistance bands” on the internet and purchase a set. The kind with integrated handles work best. Loop over a hook or an overhead beam in your basement. From a seated position pull the bands toward you in a fashion that mimics a pull up. Increase tension as you gain strength. Assisted pull ups are easy too by hooking your foot in a resistance band on one end and looped around a traditional pull up bar on the other end. The assistance the band provides is greater than you may think making you look like a pro at performing this exercise. Pull ups work several muscle groups including your lats, biceps, abs and core.  

Alternate these four exercises every other day doing push-ups and squats on day 1, 3, and 5, pull-ups and planks on days 2,4, and 6. Challenge yourself, over time increase the amount of reps within each set as you gain strength and confidence.

In my next blog I will discuss the three different muscle fiber types and the benefits to working each individual one. Whether you are looking to increase muscle strength, muscle endurance, or increase lean muscle weight, we will determine the work out resistance training regimen to suit your goal.

So go get started. In a very short period of time you will be impressed how quickly you will be able to see results. But remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”

Why Resistance Training is Critical to Weight Loss

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If you read my previous post you should have a better understanding how our bodies convert ingested carbohydrates into glucose which you now know glucose is our bodies preferred source of energy. Too many ingested carbohydrates, which exceed our current energy needs, eventually convert into triglycerides which reside inside our adipose fat tissue cells and are saved for future energy needs.

So, based on what we now know, conventional wisdom would suggest if one stops eating, one’s body would use the over abundant triglycerides stored in our bodies adipose fat tissue cells for its energy needs, right? Wrong! Believe it or not, before your body resorts to using all that available energy found around your midsection or in your thighs, your body will actually eat away its own muscle, or cannibalize itself before tapping into those stored triglycerides. Our bodies will literally eat themselves away until there is little muscle left to perform nothing but our most basic functions such as walking, sitting, and breathing. Diet, and don’t use your muscles, you’ll lose them. Think of a sailor lost at sea in his tiny life raft with no food for weeks before being found.  After weeks of surviving on little to no rations, he is rescued, his arms and legs are the size of toothpicks as his body used its own muscle as a fuel source before it used the very stored energy, (found inside our adipose fat tissue cells), we all so desperately want to lose. So, when we “diet”, or starve ourselves, we are actually training our bodies to store more energy in the form of “fat”, for future energy needs, which is contrary to our goal.

So…how do we lose weight and maintain, or gain, our lean muscle mass?,…USE THEM! You need to teach your body that it needs muscle to survive. Once your body recognizes you are dependent upon muscle function it will bypass your muscles as an energy source and will then begin to utilize those triglycerides, stored in its adipose fat tissue cells, as its new energy source. Make sense???

Weight training, or resistance training, is a key component to successfully shedding unwanted pounds. By doing so we trick our bodies into bypassing our muscle stores for energy and to go directly to our triglycerides stored in our adipose fat tissue cells for its energy needs. No gym needed here. You can easily do this at home and save yourself the time and expense to join a gym. I’ll even give you an option and show you how you can do this by spending little to no money on expensive home gym equipment.

Read my next blog on how to create a workout regimen you can easily conduct at home or on the road while you’re away from home, even from the confines of your hotel room. And remember…”If you want it you’ve got to go get it!”

Three ways to bring yourself out of a fitness lull

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There is an old adage that is commonly applied to the process of getting and staying in shape: “the best way to get in shape is to never fall out of it.”

This observation is simple enough, but as any seasoned fitness addict can likely attest, it can be a hard one to constantly apply to your daily workout routine. Every fitness-based schedule, whether it is rooted in weight training, cycling, running, or yoga, is bound to come with its lulls, or periods of time where you feel drained, out of it, or less motivated. These moments are natural, but they can be daunting depending on their severity.

If you are currently stuck in a fitness lull, here are a few quick tips to bring yourself out of it.

 

Shorten your workout

There are many potential contributing factors to a fitness lull, but one of the biggest culprits is overtraining. If you are a runner or a cyclist, for instance, you may have added too many miles too quickly and are now paying for it as your aerobic endurance fights to catch up. In situations like this, a great remedy is to simply shorten your workouts for a few days (or even a few weeks, depending on your exhaustion levels). Cut back a few miles, a few reps, or a few minutes, or simply take a day or two off completely. Then, slowly add intensity and duration to naturally and healthily get back to where you had been prior to your lull. In most cases, you should return to form feeling refreshed.

 

Change your scenery

Whatever your fitness endeavor may be, there is an accompanying environment in which you likely pursue it on a regular basis (weight lifting in a specific gym, doing yoga or cross training in a specific room of the house). If you find yourself lagging with the same old routine in the same old location, revamp the latter by completing your workout with different scenery. This approach is almost entirely mental, but it can potentially perk you up and give your workout a new appeal. You will be surprised how much difference a slight change in surroundings will make.

 

Find a partner

The benefits of a workout partner are almost too obvious to list, yet many people still prefer to do all their workouts alone. Though there is nothing wrong with an occasional solo effort, a partner-based workout system is scientifically proven to jumpstart your motivation. Your partner will be completing the same physical challenges as you, and this comradery alone is motivating as the two of you push each other to the same endpoint. Furthermore, keeping a steady conversation can be asset to making otherwise tedious runs and rides pass by quickly.

More ways to make healthy eating affordable

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A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden.

Here are three more easy ways to make healthy eating affordable.

 

Don’t buy it, grow it

When it comes to healthy eating, you cannot beat homegrown foods. Many wholesome items, especially fruits and vegetables, are capable of being planted and grown at home in a garden or greenhouse. Figure out which of these foods you consume the most, then find out how to effectively plant and nurture it so that you can produce it yourself. The process may be slow and a little time-consuming at first, but it should pay off in saved money and peace of mind knowing you are eating as naturally as possible.

 

Buy in bulk

Bulk buying can be a huge money saver in many aspects of grocery shopping, and it is just as effective when applied to a healthy eating regimen. You can buy almost any healthier food options in bulk, including grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables. Namely, items like breads and smaller fruits like berries and apples stand as ideal bulk choices thanks to their larger quantities. This approach will save you time otherwise spent on periodic weekly shopping trips, and it should also cut down on general costs (assuming you effectively divide your high-volume purchases into logical portions).

 

Freeze and refrigerate meals

I previously discussed how meal plans can be a huge asset to affordable, healthy eating, as they allow you to plan out healthy meals and apply them to the constraints of your weekly grocery budget. However, you can take this approach a step further by actually preparing your planned meals in advance and freezing or refrigerating them. Depending on the food in question, you should be able to quickly thaw out your food for an at-home meal or a packed work lunch without the present effort of throwing it together on a time schedule. You may even find yourself less stressed as a result of the latter notion.

Diet or lifestyle

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Commonly, when we want to lose weight we go on a “diet”. We often define diet as a reduction in food intake however, the definition of diet, according to the “Concise English Dictionary”, is “Mode of living, now only with especial reference to food.” So, diet is really lifestyle. When we say we are going to go on a “diet”, that carries a negative connotation that one must starve one self in order to lose weight. In fact, what one really needs to do is to make a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change which promotes healthier eating while improving our physical and, subsequently, our mental well being. Let’s face it, nothing improves our mental and emotional well being as seeing our reflection of our ten pound lighter selves.

Before you start your new diet you need to have a general understanding how our bodies convert food into energy and how it stores unused energy for future use. Glucose, or sugar, converted from ingested carbohydrates, is your bodies preferred source of energy, (or fuel), during daily activity. The average adults cardiovascular system has the capacity to maintain approximately 80 calories of blood glucose. When blood glucose rises beyond this level, insulin is released carrying excess glucose back to the liver where blood glucose is converted into it’s storage form, glycogen. Our liver is capable of storing 300-400 calories of glycogen. Once the liver stores are full, insulin carried glycogen is carried to muscles which require glycogen for repair from previous, strenuous activity. The final destination for excess, unused glycogen beyond this point is adipose fat tissue. So, in short, carbohydrates consumed in excess ultimately get stored INSIDE your adipose, or fat tissues as triglycerides.

Now, before you stop ingesting carbohydrates all together and throw on a pair of running shoes to burn off all that excess adipose fat tissue, let’s slow down and talk about this a little more.

We now know ingested carbohydrates are converted into energy. We also know our cardiovascular system stores approximately 80 calories for immediate energy needs. So, instead of ingesting large amounts of carbohydrates three times daily, we should ingest smaller amounts more often so we can slowly replace our depleting blood glucose levels due to daily activity while preventing excess fuel storage in the form of triglycerides which reside in our adipose fat tissues.

So, don’t go on a “diet” and starve yourself. A prolonged, low calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism and most likely will contribute to weight gain.

In my next blog I will follow up and explain why resistance training is critical to a successful weight loss program which will improve your overall body composition and increased weight loss.

Until then remember, “If you want it, you have to go get it.”

The best movies for fitness motivation

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Movies are appealing for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons we continually absorb them is the chance to live vicariously through their characters. Nearly all movie characters endure challenges that are reflective of our own lives in one way or another, and this connection can be incredibly motivating in the right context.

This notion is especially true of sports and fitness films, many of which feature protagonists attempting to improve their athletic skills, win a crucial competition, or simply find their place in not only their sport of choice, but the culture encapsulating that sport.

Here are a few of the best films for fitness motivation.

 

Rocky

Often regarded as one of the most uplifting and motivational sports films of all time, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky consistently produces a powerful vicarious effect over viewers. Something about Rocky Balboa’s against-all-odds situation is potent and moving, especially when paired with the brutal chapters of his training to fight heavyweight champion Apollo Creed.

At its core, Rocky is a typical David and Goliath tale, but with enough memorable characters and doses of reality to keep it fresh, it is able to remain one of the most resonant films of all time (and if those factors don’t pull you in, the film’s score will).

 

Remember the Titans

The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Remember the Titans focuses on the true story of African-American football coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington), who helped to bring racial unity to the T.C. Williams High School football team. Though the film is occasionally criticized for following an all too familiar sports film plot, it ultimately succeeds in providing an uplifting message that intertwines themes of tolerance and hard work.

 

Warrior

Warrior exhibits many of the same emotional drawing points as similar films before it (namely Rocky), but it is able to rise above cliche with a series of strong performances and a plot that is full of heart. The fim stars Tom Holland and Joel Edgerton as “two estranged brothers whose entrance into a mixed martial arts tournament makes them come to terms with their lives and each other.” The film is able to remain motivational due to its effective blending of familial turmoil and athletic drama.

 

Miracle

Miracle tells the true story of the 1980 United States men’s hockey team, which stunned the world when it defeated the heavily favored Soviet team to win gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics (aka the “Miracle on Ice”). The film is yet another classic underdog story told in a relatable and inspirational manner.

Kurt Russell’s “again” scene alone is chilling enough to inspire fresh training motivation.

The miracle drug for health

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If I told you I have found a pill that has been scientifically proven to slow down the effects of aging, improve your mood, reduce chronic pain, lower your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, slow down or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, prevent diabetes, improve your sex drive…all while helping you lose weight and improve your overall physique, would you want to start taking it? How about if I told you it was absolutely free, would you want it even more? What if I told you this one pill, when taken regularly and in the correct dosage would also help you get off most, or all of your prescribed medications saving you potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year when meeting health insurance deductibles and co-pays.

If this drug did in fact exist, would you want it? Well it does exist and it’s called *exercise*!

Let’s dig a little deeper.

It’s a scientific fact exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system by increasing the strength of your heart. This enables your heart to pump more efficiently, therefore creating better blood circulation throughout your body delivering fresh oxygen to your now busy muscle groups and removing nasty toxins out of your body. Not only does exercise increase the size and strength of your muscles but it also increases the density of your bones. This is critical as we age.

Most recently exercise is now linked to overall good brain health providing better memory, less depression, improving comprehension and is now considered one of the best ways to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

So, what types of exercise are beneficial? Basically there are two types of exercise. First let’s talk about Aerobics. Think Jane Fonda. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and breathing but not to a point of exhaustion. A brisk walk, a bike ride, raking leaves or mowing the lawn all require an increase in our heart and breathing rates. You can even take a slow paced jog through your neighborhood, run at a pace that allows you to have a conversation with a running partner.

Secondly, strength training or anaerobic exercise. Many people associate this type of training with sweaty gyms filled with sweaty guys pumping several hundred pounds of weights-not necessarily true. Strength training can be quite simple and easy to incorporate into our daily routines. Body weight exercises, done regularly such as push-ups, planks, and air squats can provide a challenge while promoting weight loss and improved, but not necessarily bigger, muscle tone. An inexpensive set of resistance training bands provide enough resistance to achieve noticeable results, and they pack easily into your suitcase so you can continue your workout regimen while traveling, no sweaty gyms required here! Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi are also great forms of body weight exercise promoting overall good health.

It’s recommended most adults exercise 150 minutes each week, (in addition to what you may already be doing), and also incorporate 2 sessions of resistance training each week will provide appreciable results. Remember, consistency is key.

The benefits of exercise are simply too numerous to list. 45 minutes, 3 times each week of easy aerobic work and 2 sessions of your choice of strength training every week is all it takes.

In the mid 1600’s an English doctor was quoted saying, “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

So, let’s take advantage of this miracle drug and get started!

Remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it!”

Exercise habits to avoid

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No matter how long you have been actively pursuing a better fitness routine, it is possible that you have one or more bad exercise habits that are deterring your efforts. In order to fully reap the benefits of your time in the gym, be sure to avoid the following exercise habits:

Skipping gym days. It is no secret that exercising is sometimes a greater test of your mental willpower than your physical abilities. After all, it is rare to find a person who genuinely desires to go to the gym and work out — especially in front of others who may or may not be in better shape than they are. However, it is better to find a way to will yourself to get up, lace up your sneakers, and go to the gym anyway. Such persistence will benefit you in the long run.

 

Taking long rests between exercises. Although it may be tempting to sit down and take a long water break after an especially difficult set of weightlifting or a sprint, it is much better for you to take shorter breaks — anywhere between one and three minutes — as they give you the opportunity to catch your breath without losing momentum or drastically lowering your heart rate.

 

Eating and/or drinking too much. Indulging in full meals or drinking too much water before a work out can lead to nausea, cramps, and other painful side effects. It is better to eat a small, healthy snack — such as Greek yogurt, fruit, or granola — and drink no more than two glasses of water prior to your next trip to the gym, as this will give you the energy you need to follow through with your exercise plan without any additional pain.

If you do choose to eat a full meal before heading to the gym, be sure to do so about two to four hours beforehand.

 

Working out aimlessly. If you go into the gym without at least an outline of your regimen for the day, it is unlikely that you will gain much from your efforts, as you will be more prone to getting distracted or giving up mid-exercise because you are not totally sure of what you are doing.

 

Make it a point to write down your exercise plan, whether on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone. This will not only give you direction at the gym, but help you to familiarize yourself with your gym’s range of equipment as well.

Ways to make healthy eating affordable

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A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden. Here are three easy ways to make healthy eating more affordable.

 

Change your way of thinking

You must possess the proper mindset if you are going to pursue a healthier diet, and this includes the financial end of this pursuit. It is no secret that many Americans resort to fast food, unhealthy frozen meals, and other quick answers to daily meals in an attempt to balance both their time and budget. A big step towards healthier living is coming to the realization that not all healthy meals require large amounts of time and money — you must break away from the conditioned association of unhealthy meal options and affordability. Once you have reached this point, you will be able to better focus on “good deals” that are also good for you.

 

Make a meal plan

If you are concerned about how healthy meals will impact your budget on a long term scale, it is wise to plan out your meals in advance. Use Sundays to make a meal list for the upcoming week, basing the list off of a predetermined meal budget. Estimate how much each meal will cost and use these figures to balance your plan to your liking. You can never have too much foresight in this field, and keeping these habits will give you a better natural perception of the meals you can and cannot make on a regular basis. Plus, if nothing else, a meal plan will add another component to your organization throughout a busy work week.

 

Relish the leftovers

Do not be afraid to make too much of a healthy meal — unless you are extremely picky about repeating specific courses, you may be able to use meal leftovers to get you through multiple days of eating, saving more money in the process. This way, you will at least ensure that you are eating something you know is healthy while saving time otherwise spent on new meal preparations. Additionally, you can use leftovers to craft other healthy dishes (stir frys, salads, and burritos, for example).