The holiday season is upon us and soon we will be surrounded by all sorts of sweets, fatty foods and high caloric drinks. All which has us running like crazy to the gym on January 2 of each year. We make promises to ourselves that this WILL be the year we lose those 2o pounds and keep it off. Instead of waiting until the new year, why not get a head start and begin now? One of the best ways to get us over that hump, is to get a personal trainer. Not sure how to pick one? My friend Jay, a personal trainer for the last 20 years, has some great tips and recommendations on helping you pick someone who will work for you and your needs.
Determine your fitness goals. Be realistic and ensure goals are reasonably obtainable. Weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is a good rule of thumb. You should also know how often you can honestly get to the gym per week and how much time you have when you are there. Having a clear picture in mind before you talk to the trainer allows you to pay close attention to what the trainer says and helps you choose the correct trainer for you.
Find a trainer that is certified. If you are currently a member of a gym that offers personal training, more than likely their trainers are certified. If you go to a free-lance trainer make sure you know where they were certified. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council of Exercise (ACE), and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are all credible organizations. If your trainer isn’t certified by one of these, you can always look up the certification online. Make sure their certification required prior education in a fitness related industry or a certification that offers a written and practical examination.
Find out about the trainer’s experience & expertise. You want to make sure the trainer fits with your personality and can adjust workouts to meet your fitness goals. You also want to make sure they can do more than just one type of training. While it is very important for everyone to do strength training, everyone should not train like a body builder. Ask the trainer what type of clients they have worked with and for how long. Often trainers have certain areas of expertise, if you are recovering from an injury, recently had a child or have some alignment issues you might look for a trainer who specializes in those areas. Try to find someone who is willing to teach you how to exercise effectively, not just count reps and move the weights.
Understand the costs and liability of trainers. Typically 1 on 1 training goes for anywhere from $60 on the low-end to over $100 on the high-end for hourly sessions. 30-minute sessions are usually a little more than half of the normal hour rate. If you have a friend who can work out with you, you both can often save as much as 40% per session. Some gyms offer training packages that offer discounts when you purchase multiple sessions. You may be required to sign a contract. Any contract you sign should state the number of sessions you will receive, the length of each session, any cancellation requirements and the refund policy. Make sure you are clear on everything before you sign. It is also important to know if the trainer is covered by liability insurance. Many organizations offer insurance for trainers and it can be a further indication of their expertise and professionalism. Typically they will be insured for at least a million dollars.
Hiring a Personal Trainer can be a great investment that will pay off over a lifetime. If you follow these basic guidelines and learn as you go it can be a great way to achieve fitness success.
If you are like me, then you have been on the road a lot lately for work. In September, I was in three different hotels over a three-week time period. Or was it four? Every year, at the same time, it happens to me — I begin to lag behind in my workout routine. The carefree days of summer allow to me work out later with the extra hours of daylight and when Fall hits, all of that hard work goes out of the window. Each year, I tell myself “this will not happen again.” Sigh, but it does. I am about to start traveling again next week and have been in search of creative ways to get some form of exercise in between meetings. Here are a few things I am going to try and hope that you find them useful too:
Be realistic and pack what you think you will really use. My biggest excuse is that I say I don’t want to over pack my suitcase, so I take nothing. With airline baggage fees steadily increasing, we are all conscious of how many bags we carry. Therefore, when packing workout gear, I keep it light — tank tops, shorts, light t-shirts and yoga pants. Sneakers are bulky so I either try to squeeze those into a carry-on or wear them on the plane.
Do your research ahead of time. Call the hotel or visit their website to see what fitness services they offer. So many hotels are all about meeting the needs of their business traveler. They have either a fitness center, fitness DVDs and equipment you can rent, or discounts for a fitness center nearby if they don’t have one. Most often access to the fitness center is complimentary to guests or you if you are a member of the hotel reward program.
Use the environment around you. If the fitness center has a cost, there are also free activities that can be done. Ask the concierge for walking maps or running trails near the hotel. This also allows you to become familiar with the area.
Eat healthy. If you just cannot squeeze in a workout, at the very least don’t go overboard on your eating. When you are on travel, you may be tempted to splurge a little here and there — buffalo wings and fries from room service or cheesecake at the reception. Stick to your healthy eating habits and maybe you won’t feel too bad about skipping the workout.
Pack your own gear. I recently picked up some resistance bands from Sports Authority as an attempt to “get back in the groove” of working out. Since they are so lightweight and thin, you can carry them anywhere. They are perfect for doing bicep curls or squats while in your hotel room, watching TV.
Get an early start. When meetings start at 9 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. there is little time to workout throughout the day. I have found that working out before the meeting helps me not only stay focused during the meeting, but I got it out of the way. And quite honestly you have more time to workout since you don’t have a commute time with the meeting being downstairs in the hotel. Now you have an extra 30-45 minutes to workout.
Live Life, Live Healthy
In a couple of weeks, it will officially be Autumn/Fall and the weather will be turning cool. As a Fall baby, I love this weather for many reasons. One of them being, that this is great weather for running outside. It’s not too cold and it’s not too hot. I just hope my knees can keep up with me this season. I spent most of the summer in Tae-Bo and spinning classes. While these are great year-round exercise sessions and I definitely burn the calories, it’s time to change up my routine so i don’t get bored.
I know many of you may start to pull back on your workouts as the days get shorter, but instead of falling back this season, fall forward and change up your routine. Our bodies get used to the same exercises and we don’t see the results we were seeing back in July. It’s time to trick your body and do something different.
* The Fall is a great time to do some other type of outdoor activities like flag football and hiking. You would be surprised how many co-ed flag football teams have already started in your city. Ask around and see if you can join one. It is actually a lot of fun — great exercise, nice way to meet new people, and a good stress reliever.
* Of course walking and running are always great in the Fall, especially if you felt it was too hot over the summer to do either of these. Check out the September issue of Fitness magazine – “Best-Ever Walking Workout.” This article gives some great tips on “stepping up” your walking routine, as well as strengthening exercises.
* I am not sure how many calories you will burn with this activity, but it’s fun and that’s bowling. Get a group of friends together and go bowling on the weekends. Start some teams and throw in a prize to make it more interesting. You will no longer be bored on Saturday nights, your arms will get toned and you will have a good time.
Don’t let the cooler weather cause you to “fall back” into bad habits of not working out and overindulging in comfort food. Resist the urge to curl up on the couch, under the covers and with the remote control. Keep your workouts going and most importantly pick a fun activity. The latter will ensure you don’t get bored too quickly and stop exercising. Just think how great you will feel when you slip on those jeans around December. You will be so happy that they still fit even after the summer. Happy Exercising!
One of my forever challenges in working out and breaking a sweat is how my hair will look afterwards. My hair, my hair, my hair!!! I sometimes loathe working out because I know that as soon as I step on the treadmill or even begin Tae Bo, I am going to break into an immediate sweat. Then there goes my hair! For those of us with ethnic, curly, thick, or frizzy hair . . . this is such a huge concern.
I really hate having to choose between having great hair or a toned body. So I have given up on stopping every 2 minutes to wipe the sweat from my hairline to prevent my hair from getting soaked. It breaks my concentration and I don’t enjoy my workout. I have embraced the fact that I will have to do a complete hair makeover after EVERY time I work out. Which is about 4-5 times a week. Even though I have short hair, it’s naturally curly and can still be time consuming. But hey, what a small price to pay for a nice body, right? Hmm, not sure I am convinced just yet.
Those of you who keep up with my blog, know that I will go and do some research about what is being said about an issue. So here’s what I found out about exercising and caring for your hair:
- Don’t wear a baseball cap (which I always do when I run outside!). It can block your sweat glands and your glands need to breathe while exercising.
- Make sure you pull your hair back, off of your forehead and out of your eyes. You can pull it back with a scarf or cotton headband.
- Whatever type of hair you have, you have to rinse the salt from the sweat out of your hair. The salt can really damage your hair. But I say, even if you can’t rinse or wash or your hair every time, at least do it every other day and condition it well. In between you should use a conditioning hair product and make sure you blow dry that sweat out of your hair very well.
- If you like the saunas after a good workout, then cover your hair with a towel. The heat can dry out and damage your hair. Otherwise, put some leave-in conditioner or light jojoba oil in your hair while you are in there.
So whatever type of your hair you have ethnic, kinky, straight, curly or frizzy; you MUST take care of your hair when you are exercising. Our hair should not prevent us from working out and working out shouldn’t prevent us from still having cute hair. There is a happy medium. If you have any other tips, please share them because you never know what may help someone else.
Why is it that you seem to get “the blahs” more in the winter than in the spring or summer? It’s not like there is anything necessarily wrong with your life or in your life, but you just sometimes feel like you have less energy than usual. Well at least that is how I feel and I am sure many of you can relate. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing anything . . . cleaning the house, working, or reading a book. Lying on the sofa or in the bed is just so much more appealing, isn’t it? The paranoia in me got me to thinking “am I depressed and don’t know it?” I haven’t even had the urge to write, which is why the blog has been slightly lacking over the last two weeks. I always know there is something wrong when I don’t want to write and my only desire is to consume chocolate chip cookies and watch Hitch for the 7th time.
So I started doing a little research and found that what I have been feeling is extremely common. According to a Canadian study, 90% of the people they surveyed indicated they had the winter blahs. Not to be confused with the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, which is a form of depression. With shorter days in the winter, we get less sunshine and less Vitamin D, which is known to improve individuals’ moods and reduce depression. (Just think how great you feel on a beautiful sunny day). Did you ever wonder why you may be more cranky, moody and sluggish from November to March? Well it has a lot to do with not so many sunny days to wake up to, lots of nasty weather, and less opportunities for being outside. It’s also a time where we are not as physically active. Almost everything I read indicated that some form of exercise is great for curing the “winter blahs.” I must say the last couple of days I have worked out and it has helped a bit. So as I try to kick these blahs, I thought I would share with you my thoughts on what may help us all through these not-so-great days. Here are a few of my suggestions and a few from different sources that I thought were good.
- Find something that you like to do that will get you up and moving, or just take your mind off of feeling blah. Try a new recipe or give your bedroom a new look. A new activity may improve your mood.
- Open the blinds or curtains for some sunshine and crack the windows for a bit of fresh air. Release the stale and dry air that is lingering in your house that may be making you feel cooped up and sluggish.
- Exercise or do some form of physical activity. Try a new exercise class like Power Yoga or Cardio Funk. Salsa dancing is on my list! The energy you will get from exercising is definitely a mood-lifter.
- Visit friends you haven’t seen in a while. Catching up with friends just makes you feel good, especially when there is laughter involved. A good laugh is priceless.
- Take your vitamins. We need our vitamins even more in the winter months to help fight off viruses and colds, as well as maintain our energy. We are definitely more sluggish in the winter and vitamins help a lot.
- Meditate and massage. Do both! Clearing your mind and releasing tension from your body can help increase your positivity. The blahs can often lead us into negative thinking. So staying positive is important.
- Do something different with your look. Get a haircut, try a new hair color or wear a color you don’t usually wear. This will surely brighten your mood and get people to notice that certain “Je ne sais quoi” about you.
Sorry I haven’t been blogging this past week, but I was struck down by a nasty cold. I guess it was bound to happen before winter was over. But I’m back and feeling better, and taking my vitamins everyday! One of the cool things about blogging is you can actually see what search terms people use via Google to get to your blog. Since January I have noticed that a lot of you are searching for information on exercises and clothing for your shape (i.e. apple or pear). This is to be expected as we all know that the first of the year is all about getting into shape and eating healthier. Those of you who have been with me since the start of the blog, may remember one of my first posts’ on Apple and Pear Shape. To give those of you a little more information on the whole “fruit shape” phenomenon, I have asked my guest blogger Sara to give you her insight on the issue. As a pear, this is something she is a bit concerned about and apparently thinks about it often. So, this week it will be all about the apple and pear shapes. She has a little something for you each day. Enjoy!
Sara’s Thoughts on Apples and Pears
When you wake up in the morning, no matter what you are planning to do for the day, the most important thing is to feel good about yourself! Whether you are heading to work or planning a new exercise routine, it is important to understand your body and feel good about it in order to attain a healthier you. As mentioned several times in this blog, determining your body shape (apple or pear) can help you determine best exercises and clothes to wear to make you feel great! To determine your shape see the “Apple or Pear” post from November 2007. While it is important to exercise your whole body consistently, there are specific exercises you can concentrate on to work those “problem areas.” Check out these websites for exercises for apple and pear shapes.
Exercises for Apple Shapes:
Elbow to Knee Side Crunches
Exercises for Pear Shapes:
For everyone, it is important to have a strong core:
Later this week, we will talk about clothing for your apple or pear shape.
I don’t know about you, but I am already tired of the gym. Tired of the monotony of getting on the treadmill and taking my 15 minute run and then heading over to the ellipitical for my other 15 minutes, lastly 15 minutes of the bike. Boredom!!! I often feel like this cat lately, when I get close to the treadmill.
Haven’t we all been there sometimes? Like just a few hours ago. This is why I love my Tae-bo classes when I can make them. Not only is it a total body workout, but it keeps me going and energized. I am also pushing myself beyond my comfort limits and not slacking as I may be tempted to do when at the gym. This is definitelly a great alternative to the gym and especially if you are becoming bored with your new routine. Earlier this month, I promised you some alternatives to the gym for this exact reason. Many of us definitely need that extra motivation to exercise in the winter/colder months. Doing different routines outisde of the gym or fitness center may be just thing you need to get you pumped again!
Salsa Dancing - Works your arms, glutes, back, thighs and calves plus cardio. Helps you with your posture too! Not to mention it’s so much fun (to me), you learn a new talent and you get to go shopping for cute shoes (nothing below 2″). Just about every city has salsa dancing classes or hosts a salsa dancing night at clubs with classes held before it opens to the public. Some places are free and some have a nominal fee for instruction. Do a google search for your city and salsa dancing.
Kickboxing – Tones your entire body plus cardio! My Tae-Bo instructor says this is very different from tae-bo and she is correct. I have learned both methods and the movements are different, but I think either one can give you a pretty good workout. If you have just joined a gym and don’t want to lose money on your membership, check and see if cardio-kickboxing or similar classes are offered. Many of the Gold’s Gym and Bally’s offers them, as well as L.A. Sports Club. If you don’t belong to a gym, check into privately owned studios or the YWCA to see if they offer classes.
Yoga – Another total body workout, less the cardio. Tones your abs, arms, legs, back, and shoulders. According to my 8 year old niece, yoga is really good for centering so you can focus better. Yes, she actually told me this. It is also provides you with a vehicle to meditate as you strengthen your body. If you are a runner or a cyclist, yoga will help you with those muscle groups (hips, hamstrings, and shoulders) that are overtaxed with these types of exercises. Yoga is also great for new mommies and reclaiming your bodies. Again, just about every city has a yoga studio or provides yoga classes at the gym. Do a quick internet serach on Google.
I know there are so many other alternatives to the gym that I didn’t touch on like pilates, hip-hop dancing, tai-chi, and boot camp, but I didn’t want to overload you. Like the others, simply conduct a quick Internet search for these types of exercises and you are bound to find places where you can attend and try them out. Also, check with friends or colleagues for referrals. They may also turn out to be your new exercise buddy. If all else fails, rent or buy a DVD of your favorite activity or if you have Comcast or DirectTV find the Fit TV channel and get to moving!
It’s January and we all know what that means. We are all going to start, resume or attempt to exercise and eat better in the new year! That’s right we are two weeks in and the gyms are packed daily with committed fitness soldiers on a mission to rid their bodies of all they consumed in 2007. Treadmills have waiting lists, cardio-busting classes are overflowing and the sounds of men (and women) grunting through every rep of a leg press is like music to our ears. Even my Tae-bo class, which is generally not too crowded, was super packed on Saturday! We were all crammed in there jabbing away the pounds and sweating out the toxins. But this is what you can expect for at least the next couple of months. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but we have all seen it so many times in the past. By mid-February, the gyms become a little quieter and by March it’s a bit eerie how few people are working out next to you. People begin to drop off one by one like flies and exercising soon becomes a faint memory. Well that is until May when they start up again for swimsuit season.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore but prefer to set goals for myself. This year I said I wasn’t going to allow myself to slack this winter on my exercising. Each year I tend to fall back, like most of us, on working out during the winter. But I actually set this goal back in October and so far I am doing pretty good. I did go to Tae bo twice this week! I can’t feel my thighs from the 200 squats, but I went! I have to say if it weren’t for my girlfriend, who has literally been my exercise buddy since 2002, I would be making up all sorts of excuses for why I couldn’t go. She has a hubby and a three-year old, so if she says she’s going I have absolutely no excuse. So I say to you — YOU CAN DO IT! You can actually keep your resolution this year to workout regularly and eat healthy. You absolutely can do it! I look at my girlfriend and she motivates me because she schedules the time to work out even with all that she has going on. So how do you stay focused when it’s tempting to slack on that New Year’s resolution? Well, of course you know I have a few tips. Give them a try!
Get an exercise buddy. Having someone that you can workout with really, really helps. You all can be a great source of motivation for each other as you aim to achieve your goals. You don’t have to be on the treadmill at the same time or even take the same class, but having that person go regularly with you will push you to stay on track.
Be realistic about your schedule. If you know that mornings are just a crazy time and you find you are always missing your workout, find a different time. This is probably not the best time for your body or mind. Maybe it’s evenings or the baby’s nap time. Just find a time in your schedule that you are most likely to stick to.
Create a vision board.Grab a poster board, glue, scissors and some magazines. Cut out images and words that reflect your goal. When we can look everyday at what we want to accomplish for ourselves, it becomes second nature and we believe it will happen. If you want to be healthy and have a fit body, identify positive images of just that. Then place your vision board where you can see it everyday as a reminder of what you want.
Do a little shopping. Sometimes we feel better about working out if we have comfortable, but cute clothes to do it in. I don’t believe in breaking the bank on workout clothes, but I do believe in quality. My favorite place to find these items is Filene’s Basement (Marshall’sis pretty good too). They always have Puma, Nike, Danskin, and Addidas warm up pants and tops at half the price. Be careful, because you can get carried away by all of the great finds.
Create a playlist.Nothing gets me through a workout like my music! Load up some of your favorite songs that you like to groove to and get on that treadmill. You would be surprised how much further you can go when you have music. Beyonce, Janet, Justin, Amerie, and Mary J always keep me going!
Remember YOU CAN DO IT!!!
The holiday season is officially over and now it’s time to jump back into our excercise regimen. Yes, I am sure many, many of us slacked off over these last two weeks, but now it’s time to get busy! Over the next couple of months I am going to provide you with alternatives to the gym. It is so hard for me to go to the gym during the winter. It’s cold and blustery outside, too dark in the morning and too dark at night to go. This is what I tell myself anyway. Perhaps many of you are feeling that way too and need some new ways to get your heart pumping. So begins our first alternative to the gym — walking outside. Yes, I know it’s very cold in most of the U.S. right now, so this may not be the best alternative for you if it’s 0 degrees. No worries, I will have other alternatives later this month.
This was written by a guest blogger (Sara) and I hope you enjoy it.
I still run into the days when “I don’t feel like exercising.” I can come up with ten reasons on the spot of why I can’t do it today. “I had a long day, I ate too much, I didn’t eat enough, I have to be home to meet my husband/friend in three hours so I better go now, and so on.” If I put this kind of speedy creativity to good use, I could be working in politics. Of course, it is important to define “good use” – split-second creative answers are not always good in politics and NEVER good for an argument against exercise. To combat my fight or flight response, I tell myself that after 5 minutes at the exercising at gym or walking outside, if I still “don’t feel like it,” I can stop. After 5 minutes of exercise, I rarely feel like stopping. Also, having to meet my friend for a walk helps me follow through with it because I know that she is depending on me. Spending time with my friends lifts my spirits as we discuss important (and not-so important) issues. I have found that I can combine exercise and spending time with my friends. Instead of meeting for lunch, we grab a bite and then go for a walk. We walk together on weekends and I often catch up with out-of-state friends over the cell phone while out on a walk.
Walking is also a great way for me to clear my mind, give me energy and relieve my stress! Walking is good exercise – it gets your heart rate up and burns calories. For a 15 minute/mile walk (4 miles per hour), a 145 lb woman will burn 435 calories. You can calculate the calories you burn through exercise based on your weight in pounds at the Daily Plate. Walking has a range of health benefits such as lowering your blood pressure and your risks of osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. It also helps to improve your cholesterol profile. Walking has little impact on your joints compared to other exercises and it is a great way to get some Vitamin D on your skin. Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health so combining that latte with a walk will help your bones! Little did I know that I was helping ward off osteoporosis! So bundle up, grab a friend and head out for a winter walk!
If you had more than your share of cocktails last night, recovery is always challenging. This is especially true when you are in your 30s and 40s. Recovery takes so much longer than when you were in your 20s. I would like to share a few things that I do to recover the next day:
Drink nothing but water all day. If I feel I over did it on the sugary cocktails, I try to hydrate myself and eliminate as much sugar as I can the next day. No sodas, no juice, no alcohol, no sweets – JUST WATER! (Tip: Drinking lots of water in between cocktails helps too).
Get a workout in. It really does help me feel better to sweat out some of those toxins I put in my body the night before. Plus I just feel less guilty by trying to work off some of the calories I consumed. Top off your workout with a high protein meal to help your body recover from the workout.
Eat lots of good stuff – veggies, protein, and lean meats. This of course is my choice of food and doesn’t have to be yours. Okay, I may sneak in some french fries along with the salad. Some may turn to greasy foods to recover from a night of too much alcohol. There is some scientific evidence that supports this is actually good for you since high fatty foods slow down the absorption of alcohol. So eating the greasy food before you drink may prove to be better than afterwards.
Sleep! I really try to get my full 7-8 hours of sleep if I can, but often alcohol can cause for a restless night. So if are able to, take a quick nap the next day to recharge. This of course only works if you don’t have to work the next day (although I am known to take a quick snooze at my desk) or have children to take care of. As one of my girlfriends says, “There is no such thing as sleeping late after a night with the girls, when you have a 3 – and 7-year old who want breakfast at 6 a.m…on a Saturday!” So mommies, I say try to play the quiet game with your little ones for about 20 minutes and see if you can sneak in an afternoon nap! Popping in the Shrek 3 DVD will probably work too.