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Saturday
Dec202014

Exercise Excuses and Review of the Tae Bo® Low Impact Chair Workout

When I counsel people on weight loss, I say that a consistent exercise routine is 50% of a successful plan. Some never come back to see me if they refuse to exercise. Why do people hate it so much? The usual excuses (here are three of dozens that come up) just don't fly anymore:

  • "I can't afford it" = There are gym memberships as low as $9.95 per month for basic membership or $19.95 with exercise classes included. If you consider how much you spend each week getting coffee or take-out lunches, gym fees like these are affordable with any income. Other options: If you enjoy dance fitness, ask a local Zumba instructor if they accept a sliding scale fee (pay what you can). I allow this for my drop-in Zumba classes, as do many instructors if you just ask. There are also endless free video resources at your local library or on YouTube (see below) and don't forget the great outdoors available 24/7.
  • "I don't have the energy" = The biggest misconception of all. As long as you don't suffer from a heart or lung condition or fibromyalgia, exercise will almost always boost your energy. Being sedentary causes fatigue. But you do have to push past that mental block to get started.
  • "I don't have time" = I'm sorry but you have to make time. If you take away 15 minutes from screen time or reading time or even sleep (you won't die!), you can fit in exercise. 

In response to the excuses above, I may provide a link to a free exercise video on YouTube that I prescreen for safety. There's every possible type of exercise....dance, kickboxing, Pilates, yoga, toning, strength, HIIT, barre...all of which can be done in your home at your preferred time. I encourage an activity someone likes and starting with 10-15 minutes of the video, then adding more minutes each week.

The clear downside is safety, as no one is watching to make sure you do the moves correctly and don't hurt yourself. You're also accountable to yourself to do it consistently. Below is a low impact chair workout that may be useful for those with sensitive knees or back. I performed the whole video and provided my two cents below. Although I'm a certified exercise instructor, I don't have the extensive training of an exercise physiologist, physical therapist or personal trainer, so again it's just my two cents! 

PROS

  • Love the seated exercises that are no or low impact. Minimal space and no extra equipment needed. This really is a no-excuses workout! 
  • My heart rate went up and the intensity was good—I sweated. Easy to follow movements.
  • Works most of the major muscle groups. The ab exercises are challenging!

CONS

  • No modifications offered. You'll notice that everyone in the video looks fit and the same shape. I'm surprised that a chair video would not feature at least one person who is larger, older or less fit so that modifications could be shown.
  • Many of the exercises start slowly and then go faster to double time. The faster tempo seems almost too fast. When you go faster, you need to make the movements smaller/tighter. Even then, faster often means losing proper form. Some of the exercises at the fast pace actually caused some hip discomfort but that was just my body. 
  • Would have liked more comments from Blanks on good form, for new exercisers performing the video. What is the target muscle(s) for each exercise? For example with the roundhouse kicks, how high should the knee be? Would the move be as effective if you kept the side knee/leg lower below the hip? If you keep the knee high, you feel the outer thigh working; if you lower the knee, the intensity drops and your leg feels like it is simply flailing.

This is deceptively not a beginner-level workout though most of it is seated and easy to follow. I'd still suggest this video for those newer to exercise, but to do only the seated movements and keep the tempo at the initial slower pace. Also start with 10 minutes and gradually add more time. As always, listen to your body and if anything causes sharp pain, back off. The nice thing about this video is that it introduces seated movements that someone could remember and do on their own, say while watching television...during commercial breaks!

Monday
Dec082014

Just Do It This Holiday Season

Enjoying friends and family around the holidays is synonymous with good food and drinks, so you may be seeing a lot of articles right now on how to avoid being a complete glutton. I find the Do's more useful than Dont's, so I've included my favorite ones below. The goal is to enjoy yourself throughout the holidays by eating well and feeling great!

Photo credit: Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital's employee holiday luncheon

Don’t starve yourself before an event. Do drink plenty of fluids and eat lightly with foods like fresh fruit, Greek yogurt or whole grain toast with nut butter.

Don’t hang near the food and booze. Hovering over snack bowls or socializing near the dessert table or bar almost guarantees that you will overeat. Do plant yourself away from tempting tables and keep your mouth busy by talking: catch up with folks you rarely see or enjoy the special time with friends. Carry one drink and a small plate of food as you socialize, so people won’t offer you more.

Don’t shovel in the food. Do focus on enjoying your food and wait at least 20-30 minutes before reaching for more. It really does take about 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach “all set!”

Don’t deprive yourself of what you really want. If you’re dying for a scoop of the bacon cheddar mashed potatoes or a chocolate-dipped peppermint truffle, have some; otherwise the next day you may feel cheated and overeat something else. Do keep portions small. You will appreciate rich foods more if you chew a portion thoroughly and slowly, savoring the flavors.  

Don’t punish yourself with exercise. If you try to double your workout time and intensity, you may feel entitled to eat more as a reward, possibly negating the effects of your workout. Do continue exercising with your usual routine throughout the holidays, even on the day of.

Don’t keep leftovers in the house if you’re hosting a party. Do keep plates or disposable containers and foil on hand to encourage guests to take home a plate of food.

Don’t berate yourself if you overdid it (especially if you enjoyed yourself!). Do start the next day by returning to your healthy eating and exercise routine. One event will not affect your health and weight; your body will forgive you once you get back on track.

Monday
Nov242014

The Meta Effect: Starting with One Small Change

I've partnered with Meta, a new line of wellness products by P&G, that is on a mission to encourage Americans to begin a journey of small steps towards better health. Last month, the brand initiated a year-long wellness partnership with the City of Memphis as well as a national sweepstakes hosted on the Meta Facebook page. Memphis has ranked among the unhealthiest cities in the past few years by Newsweek and the American College of Sports Medicine. But this home of the blues and delicious BBQ is also a community determined and ripe for change, and it is starting with the idea of taking small healthy steps, what they like to call the Meta Effect.

“Memphis has seen great revitalization in recent years, but we still need to work on making better health an attainable goal for everyone,” says Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “I believe Memphis is a city of action and I know this community will rise to the challenge." 

Latreal Mitchell leading a cycling class with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr, and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Jr

In October, Meta hosted a kickoff event for the Memphis community that included an opportunity to meet Latreal “La” Mitchell, celebrity fitness trainer to brand spokesperson Michael Strahan, for fitness and nutrition advice as well as to join her in a fun, intense workout in a cycling studio. 

When I visited Meta's Facebook page for the sweepstakes, I read many inspiring changes people were making. To enter, they had to post an answer to the question, "What's one small step you've taken to be healthier?" Some people lost a few pounds; others lost more than 100 pounds, all with practical simple steps. Taking the stairs, walking every night after dinner, portioning dinner plates with 3/4 veggies then 1/4 lean protein, drinking water or herbal tea instead of soda. I especially loved one woman's comment that she just stopped making excuses!

You can enter the 2nd half of Meta's sweepstakes until December 21, 2014 if you answer the question, "What's one small way you stay healthy during the holidays?" Two 1st prize winners will receive a premium tablet, wearable fitness tracker, Meta products, and gift card for athletic apparel. The grand prize winner will get all of the above plus a 3-day 2-night stay in New York City, a personal training session with Latreal Mitchell in New York City, and tickets to a TV taping to see Michael Strahan live in action on his set.

How do I try to stay healthy during the next two months, which is my favorite time of year? I avoid all the goodies and sweet treats at the office, church and just about everywhere else, but on Thanksgiving and Christmas day I allow myself whatever I want. I believe that it's not the eating on those two holidays, but all the eating around those holidays that causes problems. If I attend parties between those holidays, I generally stick to the MyPlate guidelines of lots of veggies, lean protein and some starch. And it doesn't hurt to keep moving...climbing stairs, taking an extra Zumba class, holiday shopping at the mall—it all counts! 

Visit Meta's Facebook page to enter the Meta Sweepstakes and share your healthy tip. For official rules, click here

To enter a comment on the sweepstakes post on Meta’s Facebook page with a small step you've taken to be healthier this holiday, include the hashtag #MetaEffectSweeps and tag @MetaWellness1 to receive one (1) entry into that corresponding Entry Period’s random drawing.

Disclosure: I've partnered with P&G on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more information at MetaWellness.com.