Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Finding the motivation to work out

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How long have you been thinking about starting a new diet or fitness routine? For me, I spent almost a year "considering" exercising before I finally got things moving. As my mid-section continued to expand, I made excuses about work, time, family commitments, etc. Sound familiar?

Most people need to find their "passion reason" for working out -- the emotional motivator they need to stick to their fitness goals. You can find your own "passion reason" by making a list of things that are important to you -- your "power list." By jotting down a few goals, and ways in which you'll achieve them, you can find the justification you need to lace up those running shoes and hit the pavement (or the gym, or wherever you go to keep active).

Now that I've found this, I think I'll re-evaluate the "passion reason" that got me started, which was, essentially, to avoid public embarrassment. When I started running, I told the readers of my personal blog that I'd post before and after pictures of my gut. While I've definitely made some progress these last couple months, now that the deadline is approaching, I may have to renege on that promise.

Need ideas for your list? Jorge Cruise makes some great suggestions here.

Diet traps to avoid

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Losing weight is hard enough without all these profit-hungry people and organizations using flashy ads and promising-yet-unrealistic statements to get your attention and get you spending money on their weight loss products. They're called diet traps, and they might be the reason you're still not shedding any pounds.

Here are the top 5 diet traps, courtesy of WebMD. The bottom line? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unless you're working out 10 hours a day or have an extremely high metabolism, it's pretty much impossible that you can eat anything you want and still lose weight. Promising that you can is a trap. That fad diet? It might have worked for someone you know, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. Trap! Extremely low-cal diets? Unhealthy -- it's a trap. You'll lose X lbs in Y days? It's a trap -- the weight you lose will most likely be water loss.

Have you fallen for any of these traps?

Workplace Fitness: Job burnout vs. your health

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If you love going to work everyday that's awesome, but unfortunately you are a minority. More people than not are doing the "work to live" thing, and feel stressed out and unhappy about their job pretty regularly. Whether you're not getting paid enough, you've got a pile of stressful projects coming due, or you just picked the completely wrong field for yourself, burning out on the job is a serious problem -- for both your career and your health.

Realizing you have a problem...Hate to use a cheesy cliché, but the first thing you have to do is acknowledge that you're burning out at work. It's a vicious downward spiral, and you can't climb out unless you make a conscious effort towards change. So what signs should you be watching for?

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Job burnout vs. your health

Don't let diet detours derail your success

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"I'll start again on Monday."

"Well, I had that doughnut for breakfast, so today is shot. I'll start again tomorrow."

"It's too cold for a walk/run, so I'll workout tomorrow instead."

Do any of those statements sound familiar? They do to me! They certainly aren't logical statements, but somehow we think that they are.

When you're working hard at limiting calories and exercising every day, you feel great. It's funny, though, how one little slip up can snatch all that confidence away so quickly. And if you aren't careful, those sneaky little diet detours can trip you up, leading to the excuse ma king behavior you see above.

According to a study outlined in this article, however, diet detours don't really mean much in the long run. A group of people were put on a 14 week diet. One group took 6 weeks off midway through, the other took frequent two week breaks, the third dieted the whole time. The funny thing is, each grouped averaged a 16 pound weight loss. So it turns out, it's not falling off the horse that matters -- it's getting back on that counts.

Bad habits are hard to break and recommiting to your new, healthy habits can feel like starting over. You aren't starting over, though. You have all that success under your belt, so rely on that and know that you have it in you to stay the course to your weight loss goal. So whether your diet blunder is big or small, don't worry -- in the long run it's just a blip on your weight loss radar.< h6 style="clear: both; padding: 8px 0 0 0; height: 2px; font-size: 1px; border: 0; margin: 0; padding: 0;">Permalink | Email this | Comments

Which drink is the best calorie-wise?

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Yeah, yeah. We've all heard about alcohol being comprised of empty calories that pad your waistline without giving you anything back (except the nagging feeling that you must hop on that table and let everyone in the room know just how fabulous your are at dancing when you really aren't.) We'd all love to take that advice to heart but for some of us, giving up alcohol just isn't something that's going to happen anytime soon. But that doesn't mean that you can't make smart choices when you do drink. AOL has come up with a list of the most and least fattening drinks.

Among the worst ones? Egg nog, hot toddies (when was the last time you had one of those?), fruity martinis, margaritas and mixed drinks like Singapore slings. The best ones are all non0sugary ones: Champagne, wine, wine spritzers, highballs made with soda or sparkling water and beer, surprisingly. Of course, everything in moderation, right?

How many calories... in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

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Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were born in the U.S.A. Food historians guess that the GIs in WWII combined their military rations of peanut butter and jelly to make the peanut butter more palatable, and when they returned from the war they brought the PB&J sandwich idea with them.

We've been eating them as snacks and stuffing them into our kids' lunch boxes ever since. These sandwiches have a healthy reputation, because peanut butter has protein... and that jelly sort of counts as a fruit, right?

But how many calories are in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

A) 300< /span>
B) 450
C) 510
D) 625


Continue reading How many calories... in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Cut post-workout pain in half with caffeine

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If aches and pains are preventing you from working out again, a few cups of coffee might help you get back to the gym.

A study that will be published next month in the Journal of Pain suggests that caffeine may be the key to reducing the muscle soreness that often follow work outs. The study sample was small - just nine women - but its findings reported that, among the partipants, post-exercise pain was cut by up to 48 percent when the women had moderate amounts of caffeine.

The results, the lead author of the University of Georgia study cited, may be most applicable to folks who are new to a fitness regime. He adds that reducing pain may help people make the transition in the first week.

Before you begin guzzling macchiatos on the way to boot camp class, consider that these results may not have the same impact on people who regularly consume caffeine or for men. Researchers also note that there is a need for a larger study to replicate this one. The promising news? At least in these findings, caffeine out-ranks naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen in pain prevention effectiveness by almost 20 percent.

With a bit more research - who knows? - we could be taking our workouts pain-free.

FitSpirit: Making peace with a post-partum body

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FitSpirit explores the mind-body connection and the intangible benefits we gain from our efforts to stay physically fit.

In the two years since my son came into this world, looking beautiful and wise, I have been on a journey that I could not ever have expected. My emotions have been on a wild ride. My sense of time has been whittled down to 15-minute increments. My career has taken a turn. My appreciation for any kind of self-care has swelled. And my body has perhaps seen the most surprising of all these changes.

When you are a pregnant, you are mostly likely told enough stories and read plenty of parenting books that prepare you for the lack of sleep (even if you really believe your baby-to-be is sure to be a sound sleeper from day one), how quickly the months and years slip past and how very good a manicure will feel once you have ooey, applesauce-encrusted mommy hands.

Certainly, there is a lot of talk about how to get your pre-baby body back. In my two whole years of experience, I've been shocked how rarely people discuss - openly and honestly - that there is more fantasy than reality to the idea of regaining a pre-baby body at all.

Continue reading FitSpirit: Making peace with a post-partum body

Weight, BMI's and Other Magic Numbers

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Everyone thinks she knows the perfect weight for her body, and that this magic number not only exists but is totally achievable given some creative dieting. Some of us base it on what the media claims celebrities weigh. Some, like a colleague of mine, aspire to weigh exactly the same amount they did in high school or college. Still others base their magic number on what friends and family members weigh.

While none of these magic numbers is rational, advisable or even possible in the real world doesn't seem to matter. These numbers have been hooked on to and given such power that achieving them is the only way to achieve satisfaction.

For me it was 125 pounds. This is what my mother weighed when she was younger, and before she had me. For much of my life I hovered above the 130 pound mark, so the concept of anything in the 120's seemed almost mythological. Never mind that my mom is about five inches shorter than me and has a totally different body type. It was what I wasn't but what I thought I could be. Suddenly I had a goal. Instead of just hitting the hills for the fun of it, or the health benefits associated with it, I thought the more I ran, dieted and otherwise, the more possible it was for me to reach 125 pounds. And the longer I believed this, the harder it was to achieve that idealized weight.

Continue reading Weight, BMI's and Other Magic Numbers

A spouse's personality could be dangerous

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Not too long ago we found out that happy couples already exhibit a kind of therapeutic measure on each other when researchers discovered that holding hands can reduce stress. Now it looks like they've discovered new information which reveals how a spouse's personality can affect how their partner recovers from major health challenges.

In the case of their study, researchers watched over a hundred coronary artery bypass patients and their significant others. Once again, it looks like marital satisfaction plays a larger role in the effecti veness of the study. Those who were married to to an anxious or even neurotic spouse reported symptoms of depression 18 months after their surgery.

Those couples in more optimistic circumstances reported fewer symptoms of depression and appeared to have less of a burden in recovery. It all points to a universal truth: even though they may be independent, personalities among couples can manifest themselves in physical and psychological ways.

Human growth hormone: no fountain of youth

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Is human growth hormone the pill equivalent of the Fountain of Youth? Many people think so; it's estimated that roughly 30,000 to 40,000 Americans each year take supplements that contain human growth hormone (HGH). It's no wonder why -- anti-aging products containing HGH claim to build muscle, burn fat, make you happier, make exercise easier, and improve your sex drive. Who doesn't want those things?

I'm a natural born cynic when it comes to som eone selling health in a bottle. Why -- you ask? Because of articles like these. While HGH has its appropriate place in the medical community -- some children take it for growth problems and some adults may need it as well -- it appears that taking it to slow aging may do more harm than good. In fact, people who took HGH were found more likely to have joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even appeared more likely to develop diabetes.

This study did find the HGH changes body composition. On average, it decreased fat by about 4 pounds and increased muscle by the same amount. That's great, but as the article points out -- you could do that with regular moderate exercise, and it wouldn't cost you a fortune or stress your body in an unhealthy way. Sure it's easier to take a pill, but exercise has a huge laundry list of other health benefits a pill can't give you. What do you think?

The benefits of beer

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There have been a lot of stories lately about the benefits of alcohol, usually wine. But the good news is that many of those great benefits can also be had by drinking the occasional beer. That little bottle of goodness can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, raise your good cholesterol, and reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. There are even benefits for the elderly -- with research showing that beer can have positive effects on blood flow, sleep, and urination.

Beer is fat free, cholesterol free, and definitely what many people consider a lot of fun to drink. Just make sure you don't go overboard, or all those "benefits" are right out the window -- with nasty stuff like liver damage and a beer gut stepping in instead.

And for other drinks that may be healthier than you thought,

Can you cut 100 calories today?

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Every night, when I finally sit down for the day, it's usually with a bag of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are good for you, but very high in calories. If I don't bring a small bowl to put my 1/4 cup portion in, I'm likely to eat twice that much -- and add 190 calories to my day. Portioning snack foods into single sized servings is just one of the great tips I found reading this article today.

Here's another tip from the article -- cut your foods into appropriate sizes before serving. A family style meal is great, b ut be sure that you know what an appropriate serving is before sitting down. Otherwise, you're likely to fill up your plate with twice or three times the amount of food you need. Not sure what an appropriate serving looks like? Here's a handy visual reference guide.

Cutting just 200-500 calories per day could help you lose up to 50 pounds in the next year. Instead of putting yourself on a "diet," why not just find corners you can cut to eliminate 100 calories here and there. You might be surprised how easy it is and how quickly the pounds start melting off.

Interested in learning more? Here's a list of 15 easy ways to cut 100 calories.