December 29, 2013

Worst Health And Fitness Trends of 2013

These are some trends that I hope will disappear with the new year:

1. Intense Workouts:  High intensity interval training makes my best of list (see next post), but programs such as CrossFit, Insanity and other workout classes often sacrifice form for intensity.  Orthopedists and physical therapist may be happy with the extra clients, but programs that injure people are not my idea of a good fitness trend.

2. Hot classes: Yoga, Pilates, and barre classes have been turning up the heat.  You may feel as if you are getting a better workout, but higher temperatures do not mean you work harder or burn more calories.  You put yourself at risk for dehydration, and those with health issues can have more serious problems.

3. Flirty Girl Fitness: This is actually a decent workout, but the sexist name leaves me cold.  I hope this goes the way of Pole Dancing and Stiletto Workouts.

4. Vibration Machines: There is no documentation that these help you burn more fat, calories or boost your metabolism.

5. Going Gluten Free: Unless you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant (just a small percentage of the population has these issues) there are no benefits to eliminating gluten. Gluten free foods are not necessarily healthy, they can have as much fat, salt and sugar as foods with gluten.

Next post; the best trends of 2013.

December 15, 2013

Nine Ways To Fight Holiday Weight Gain

It is a myth that most people gain 5 pounds or more over the holidays, but research has shown that those who are already overweight are more likely to put on the pounds.  These strategies can ensure that you are not among the gainers:
1. Create a plan for eating and exercise.   Plan exercise for the morning and you are more likely to succeed.   If you miss the gym, a 10 minute walk after a meal can get you away from the table and help you burn a few of those calories. 
2. Eat breakfast and do not skip meals.  You will be less likely to overeat.
3. Be aware and plan for your weaknesses.  For example if it is the cheese plate, make sure you are not starving when you arrive, stay at a distance or create a buffer zone to make it hard to reach.
4. Eat the healthiest food first.  A broth based (not cream) soup can help fill you up.
5. Plan non-food activities.  Instead of the cookie exchange, try an ornament exchange. Go caroling or play games instead of dessert.  Go for a group walk to check out the local decorations.
6. Bring your own healthy dish to a gathering.
7. Brush your teeth or pop a mint into your mouth as soon as you are no longer hungry. 
8. If you are cooking, prepare lighter versions of holiday favorites: Substitute reduced fat versions for dairy, use applesauce instead of oil in baking, add additional vegetables to casseroles, refrigerate the gravy to harden fat, and then skim the fat off.
9. Watch the liquid calories.  Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can have hundreds of calories.   Eggnog is one of the worst offenders, juice and smoothies can pack on the pounds. Coffee drinks should be labeled dessert. Alcohol will also lower your resistance, making it easier to overeat.
Be realistic.  Do not expect to lose weight, but allow yourself to enjoy the holidays sensibly.

December 8, 2013

When NOT To Give The Gift Of Fitness

We have all heard the warnings about buying a pet as a holiday gift; they often end up unloved and neglected.  This year I am asking you to save a personal trainer from that fate and refrain from buying training sessions as a holiday gift. Every year I talk someone out of purchasing such a gift. It may seem like a great present, but if the giftee is not inspired to change, those sessions will go unused.  Even if your loved one says she wants to get into shape, or that he would love a personal trainer, there is a good chance he or she is only in the “contemplative” stage, and is not ready to change.  I have had many people purchase sessions for a loved one in the hopes of improving his or her health, and then had to give the money back when the loved one was reluctant to even meet with me.  Those of us who love to exercise often find it hard to understand those who do not. Buying sessions for someone who really does not want them (despite what is verbalized) will waste your money.
If you are sure your loved one wants a personal trainer I recommend logging on to and clicking on “find a trainer”.  This site checks education, certifications, experience and has client reviews. Purchase just one session, and arrange with the trainer to purchase a set amount after this session if your giftee really wants to continue.
Even better than trying to purchase health, how about gifting yourself?  Pledge to meet for a walk instead of lunch, commit to training for a 5K together, join a tennis clinic, or invite your friend to your gym or favorite class.  For a low cost motivator try a pedometer.  This inexpensive gadget can be clipped on, or worn as a bracelet.  It measures how many steps a day you take (10,000 is the current recommendation for health) and is a great feedback tool for how much (or how little) activity you are doing. 
Giving a gift of fitness is great, but choose wisely to rescue a trainer from feeling neglected, and to save yourself some money.

December 1, 2013

Let's All Go On Statins

The American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology published new guidelines on the prevention of heart disease last month:  However, a great deal of controversy has arisen with the publication.  Many feel that the guidelines grossly overestimate the risk, and will lead to high percentage of healthy people being prescribed statins. 
My complaint with the guidelines is the lack of emphasis on diet and exercise. A healthy Mediterranean-style diet and an exercise program could be as effective as statins without the side effects (JAMA Internal Medicine, Oct. 28, 2013).  Statins lower LDL (the “bad cholesterol”), but they  have a long list of  side effects including muscle pain, memory loss, mental confusion, and type 2 diabetes.  Research has shown that doctors advised only 1of 3 overweight adults to exercise (and this is an increase from the previous 10 years!).  If a doctor writes a prescription for exercise the client is five times more likely to follow through.  So why are drugs the first line of treatment?
These new guidelines will certainly put many more people on drugs:  If a person appears to have even a moderate risk of a heart attack or stroke, he or she could be prescribed statins, regardless of LDL score or lifestyle.  Not to be too cynical, but the research on these guidelines was funded by drug companies.
I would never tell anyone to ignore the advice of his or her physician, but before you allow yourself to be put on drugs take a look at your lifestyle.  Smoking, a sedentary life, and a diet high in processed foods, sugar and trans fats will send your risk of heart disease to the top of the chart.  Walking just 10 minutes a day has been shown to have health benefits.  Before you expose yourself to the risk of drugs, give yourself a chance with the gift of fitness.

November 24, 2013

Willpower and Time

A recent New York Times article links willpower to our sense of time. (  While I do not always agree with the author’s analogies (subways and brownies?), she discusses interesting research connecting the ability to delay gratification with the amount of time one waits for the reward.  If the reward comes later than expected, or is inconsistent, we are less likely to practice self control.
This can have enormous implications in the use of willpower in diet and exercise.  If the reward is weight loss, and we have not lost weight in the expected time we are more likely to give up.  It may be easier to resist that brownie if we internalize how much longer the scale will stall by eating it.  Uncertainty seems to decrease willpower.
If this is true, then the most obvious way to forestall the time trap is to set realistic goals.  If you try to lose 20 pounds in a month, chances are you will give up very quickly as you will not see the results (rewards) you are aiming at.  For success, set a more realistic and specific goal (lose 5 pounds in 6 weeks, or exercise for 30 minutes after work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).  Try a calendar or countdown clock to monitor progress.  If you can alleviate the uncertainty of when you will get the reward (achieve your goal) you will be more likely to stick to it and succeed. 

July 7, 2013

Wake Up Your Gluts Part 2

A great exercise to wake up your gluts (and to help them look better) is the glut bridge.

Perform this by lying on your back with your legs bent and feet hip width on the ground. Arms are at your side with your palms facing up. With your feet flat on the ground, push your hips up off the ground.  Try to maintain neutral spine, and avoid arching your back.  It may be helpful to hold a ball (medicine, basketball or beach wall) between your knees.  
Hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower.  Try to relax your hamstrings to keep most of the work in the gluts. Repeat up to twelve times.
You can advance this move (but only when you can do it in perfect form), by bending one leg in the air, and pushing into the leg that is on the ground.

June 23, 2013

Wake Up Your Gluts

One of the biggest buzz phrases in the fitness industry is a condition known as “gluteal amnesia”.   Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert on spine biomechanics, coined the phrase.  It refers to the disconnect between the brain and your gluteal (butt) muscles. This leads to poor hip movement and back, hip and knee problems.  Most believe this condition is a result of too much sitting and a sedentary lifestyle.  Even those who work out regularly can have faulty movement patterns if the majority of their day is spent sitting.  Inactivity leads to tight hip flexors and hamstrings, and causes errors in the muscle firing sequence. Your gluts are essentially turned off.  This is intertwined with an inability to extend the spine (there is some debate about which comes first; the gluteal amnesia or the difficulty extending the spine). Whatever the cause, the pain felt on spinal extension causes many to avoid this movement, leading to a cycle of more rounding.
Your first step to fixing the problem is of course, to get off your butt.  Set a timer on your computer to remind you to get up and walk (even just around your desk) every 15 minutes.  If you watch tv, get up on the commercials, or set a timer to get up every 15 minutes (just avoid the fridge).  Correct your standing and sitting posture; try to avoid locking your knees or slumping your shoulders.  When at the gym avoid forward flexion exercises, especially abdominal crunches, curls or sit-ups.  Skip machines that make you sit, and opt for those that keep you standing.  Next week I will focus on some exercises that will actively engage your gluts, to help you look and feel better.

McGill, S.M. 2007. Low Back Disorders: Evidence Based Prevention and Rehabilitation (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

May 27, 2013

More Workout Music

I have had requests for more songs to move to, so here are some favorites old and new:

Anna Sun: Walk the Moon
My Body: Young the Giant
Pump It Up: Elvis Costello
Metro: Berlin
50 Ways to Say Goodbye: Train
Baby I Don’t Care No More: Mason Ruffner
Harlem: New Politics
Devil With a Blue Dress: Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
Amsterdam: Guster
More Today Than Yesterday: Spiral Staircase
Radio Free Europe: REM
We Keep Running: Youngblood Hawke
I’m Still Standing: Elton John
I Wish I Looked a Little Better: Sparks
Everybody Talks: Neon Trees
White Wedding: Billy Idol
Chelsea Dagger: Fratellis
LOVE: Nat King Cole
Danny Dakota and the Wishing Well: Silent Film
Diane Young: Vampire Weekend
Entertainment: Phoenix
Land of Make Believe: Chuck Mangione
Bushwick Blues: Delta Spirit
Cadillac Ranch: Bruce Springsteen
Love Me Do: Beatles
Rock and Roll All Night: Kiss
The Cave: Mumford and Sons
All the Way From Memphis: Mott the Hoople
The One That Got Away: Katy Perry
Howling For You: Black Keys
Raise Your Glass: Pink
Give Me Everything: Pitbull
London Calling: The Clash

For cooling down and keeping me humming the rest of the day I never get tired of:
One Sunny Day: Citizen Cope
More More More: Air Traffic Controllers
Watching You Watch Him: Eric Hutchinson

May 19, 2013

Tennis Balls For Hip Relief

Tennis balls are a great inexpensive tool that can help reduce hip pain and tightness.  The pressure from the ball helps with myofascial release (eases up some of the tightness of your connective tissue).

Sit on the floor, take a tennis ball, and place it under the bottom of an imaginary back pocket.  You can be on straight arms or your elbows.  If you are tight here, this may be very painful. If you can tolerate it, place the foot from the same side of your body (ball under the right hip use your right leg) on your opposite thigh.  Hold for several seconds (the pain should lessen, but may not disappear), then roll the ball to a new spot.
This is most effective when done regularly; the best time to do it is right before a workout, but aim for at least once a day.  Chronic sitting and our sedentary lifestyle can cause or exacerbate hip pain.  This simple exercise can provide relief.

May 12, 2013

How To Get More Out of Your Workout

Stuck in a rut?  Here are some tips to get you over the plateau:

Play music: Research shows that those who listen to music while exercising feel like they are not working as hard.  Play faster music (140 beats per minute or more) and your pace will naturally pick up.  Try these links for some great workout song ideas:
Stand up: You burn more calories and force your supporting muscle groups to work when you stand rather than sit.
Focus on movement not muscles: If you choose more “functional” exercise such as squats and lunges, you will burn more calories and target more muscle groups than single muscle exercises such as hamstring curls or quad extensions.
Go outside: Research shows there is a psychological benefit to spending time outdoors.  Ditch the treadmill and walk or run outdoors.  Your mood and body will thank you.
Cheat your reps: Grab a heavier than normal dumbbell for biceps curls.  Start with right arm bent with the hand at the shoulder.   Slowly lower the weight until the arm is straight.  Use the left arm to assist bringing the weight back up, then lower again without assistance.  (This form of assisted negatives can be done using a variety of muscle groups.)  You will be able to lift more weight without needing a spotter.  More weight means better results.

April 28, 2013

Fuel Up Your Recovery: Timing Matters

Nutrition science has come a long way from the days of carb loading (eating a ton of pasta the night before a marathon).  What you eat (and when) has a major effect on your workout.  Eating after you exercise helps convert your body from a catabolic state (where you break down muscle tissue), to an anabolic state (where you build muscle tissue back up).  What and when you eat are the key factors.
To replace energy stores and help repair damaged muscle (during training your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt to become stronger) you need to eat within 30-45 minutes of your workout.  This time period is crucial in helping you recover.  Wait longer and you will not get the benefit.
As for what to eat, the newest research is showing you need a mix of carbohydrates and protein.  Most sources indicate a ratio of 3-4 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein.
Carbohydrates should be a mix of simple and complex (such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains).  Adding protein can help reduce muscle damage and speed repair.  High quality proteins such as those from milk, chicken, fish, eggs and soy are recommended.  Smoothies made with yogurt, pretzels and hummus or peanut butter, cereal fruit and milk are examples of a good post training snack.
Post exercise nutrition is especially important for those who work out frequently and hard.  If your exercise is a 20 minute stroll, you do not have to worry about eating for recovery.  Those who do high intensity interval training, lift weights or do long endurance activities need to make post exercise nutrition part of their training.  Do not forget that these foods still count as calories so you may need to adjust the rest of your eating.  Time and plan your nutrition and you will get much more out of your training.

April 14, 2013

Still Stretching?

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not in favor of stretching before a workout.  New research underscores how pre-exercise stretching can decrease vertical jump height, sprint speed and amount of weight lifted.  This is probably because a stretched muscle is a lengthened, and thereby weaker muscle. 
Many fear that lack of stretching will lead to injury or a pulled muscle, but most people “pull their muscles” due to weakness, not tightness.  There is actually no evidence that stretching (before or after a workout) decreases injury.  You still need to warm-up.  Your body responds best by gradually easing into your sport or workout.  A dynamic warm-up is recommended.  This means mimicking the activities you will be doing, but going easier.  For example, walk before running, use light or no weights but go through the movements before lifting weights. Move your body through its full range of motion.  You should feel warm before engaging in any intense activity.
This does not mean stretching is bad; these studies are specific to stretching before a workout or sports performance.   Those with injuries or muscle imbalance may need to stretch a specific area before working out.  However, the consensus is to save your stretching for after the workout.  You will get better results, and save yourself some time.

April 7, 2013

More Dead Bugs For Your Abs

Once you have mastered the previous dead bug exercises (see posts you can progress to even more challenging variations:

1.Lie on an unstable surface such as a foam roller, BOSU, or even a pillow.  Start back with the first progression (find neutral spine, maintain it while moving just the arms or legs), only increase difficulty when you can keep perfect form.
2. Perform the dead bug but move the arms to the side of the body instead of above the head.  Once you are good at this, you can add a dumbbell or medicine ball. 
Correct form is essential; it makes no sense to increase the difficulty if you cannot do the exercise flawlessly.  Challenge yourself, but keep perfect form, and your abs and back will thank you.

March 24, 2013

Dead Bug Variations

Not only is the dead bug a great exercise for your abs and back (see post, but there are multiple variations to keep you progressing.
Before you progress make sure you can maintain neutral spine (again, see previous post) while your arms and legs are moving.  This can be extremely difficult at first, as you really need to tune in to what your body is doing.  Do not be discouraged if you do not “feel it” in the beginning, it may take a great deal of practice until you connect your mind and body. 
Once you can feel and maintain neutral spine with your feet on the ground, add just arm movement. Once you are successful with this, try lifting and lowering one (bent leg).  Next you can try lifting the opposite arm and leg at the same time.  After you are successful with this (keeping a neutral spine, moving the opposite arm and leg AND breathing) you can add some progressions:

1. Start with legs bent in the air and arms straight; then move the opposite arm and leg towards the ground.

2. Start with legs straight in the air, and again, move the opposite arm and leg.

3.  Move the same arm and leg (this is actually harder to stabilize).

Make sure you can keep perfect form before you add any variations,

March 17, 2013

Abs The Right Way

In fitness (as in life) it seems what we first learn stays with us as the correct or only way to do something.  {Thus my continued frustration at those who insist on stretching before a workout (see post}This is particularly true when it comes to abdominal exercises.  High-risk exercises such as full sit-ups remain common, and even the current darlings of the fitness world, stabilization exercises, are often done with incorrect form.
Stabilization exercises are meant to strengthen the abs in the way we use them.  They can be done standing (see post or lying down.  A common version that is great for the lower back is the dead bug. 
 You perform this by lying on your back and bringing your arms and legs in the air.  Keep your spine neutral, and move one arm overhead towards the floor, and the opposite leg towards the ground.  The key to this is maintaining a neutral spine, yet many persist in believing that the lower back should be pressed into the ground.  Flattening, or pressing the back into the ground involves spinal flexion, which causes stress on the spine, making the exercise less effective.  The best way to find your neutral spine is to lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.  Arch your lower back off the ground, and then press it into the ground.  Do this a few times, and then find the middle of these two positions.  This is your neutral spine.
 It is still common to hear instructors tell people to press their backs into the floor, but most fitness experts now believe that to be more harmful than helpful. We want to counteract the effects of too much spinal flexion (all that sitting and leaning forward), not to add to it.  Train your abs with a neutral spine, and you will see and feel the difference.

March 10, 2013

Work Your Abs As They Are Meant To Be Used

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a big fan of abdominal crunches/sit-ups/curls (see post  Briefly, it is for two reasons:
  1. Most of us spend too much time in forward flexion (the rounding of the spine achieved by crunches); in fact, many back specialists believe that performing multiple crunches will eventually lead to back problems.
  2. Unless you have a job working for royalty (doing a lot of bowing), the main function of your abdominals is to support your spine, not to move it.  Therefore, it makes more sense to strengthen your abs in the way we need to use them. 

These two exercises will work your abs in just this way. (And yes, they will help them look good as well).  They work best with a stability ball, but you can use any type of ball, a pillow will work as well, but to advance you will need to progress to a ball.  Do not try to "suck your stomach in", but do keep it "braced" (as though preparing for a punch), and make sure to breathe.

1. Place the ball shoulder height against a wall and stand sideways to the ball.  Place your palms together and the back of one hand in the center of the ball with your arms straight.  Try to relax your shoulders, but use your arms to place pressure into the ball.  Hold the ball still and alternate tapping your feet back.  You will feel the muscles of your core (especially the waist area) work as you fight to keep the ball in place.  Start with 15 seconds each side, gradually increase the length of time to one minute.

2. Place the ball shoulder height against a wall and place your forearms and elbows against the middle of the ball.  Keep your shoulders relaxed, knees slightly bent and angle your body into a plank.  Once you can hold this easily for 15 seconds add leg movements by alternately tapping the feet back. 

March 3, 2013

Can You Be Addicted To Junk Food?

You may joke about being addicted to junk food, but the food industry has engineered it to be true.  Read this fascinating article ( and see how chemists have been working hard to make sure to get you hooked on unhealthy food.  They do this mostly by manipulating sugar, salt and sometimes fat, until the food reaches the proper “bliss point”.  This creates the greatest amount of crave; in other words “bet you can’t eat just one”.  What I found particularly disturbing is the emphasis on marketing to kids and parents.
So what can we do?  First of all, take responsibility. No one is forcing you to buy those chips.  Read labels, check out ingredients (look for the many different versions of sugar, just a few include; corn syrup, fructose, honey, molasses, maple syrup, organic dehydrated fruit juice, agave nectar, lactose, maltodextrin….). Make sure to check serving size, a food may not seem so bad until you read that two chips equals one serving.   If you cannot resist the junk, measure and portion it out yourself.  Leave the box behind and eat only what you prepared.  Most importantly; eat real food. Until they start injecting apples with sugar and carrots with salt, you can be pretty sure that it is healthy.

February 24, 2013

Winning on Oscar night:

Make your Oscar night a winner by following these tips:
  • Socialize more.  Spend more time talking and you will spend less time eating. (You don’t talk with your mouth full do you?)
  • Keep your alcohol consumption down.  Liquid calories add up easily.  Limiting your alcohol intake will also help your willpower, making that second piece of cake less likely.
Rev up your metabolism during the show by playing this game:
  • Each time a winner thanks God, do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Each time a winner thanks his or her mother, do 10 squats.
  • Each time a winner thanks his or her agent, do 10 pushups.
  • Each time anyone says, “it is an honor to be nominated”, do 10 lunges.
  • Each time anyone trips on her high heels, do 10 burpees.
  • Each time the music cuts off a speech, do a 20 second plank.
  • Each time a winner mentions the other nominees, do 10 triceps dips.
  • Bonus: For every wardrobe malfunction do 10 box jumps.

February 10, 2013

Calories In Calories Out....Not

Calories In Calories Out…Not

For years we have told people that weight loss is a simple formula; you must take in less than what you burn.  However, research is showing that it is not quite that simple.  A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity found that when you eat can be a big factor in helping or hindering weight loss. 
Common wisdom has railed that a calorie is a calorie, and that when you eat is not as important as what you eat.  We have long known that late in the day eaters tend to weigh more, however, that was attributed to the theory that those who eat late at night are eating more calories, and especially junk calories.  However, a recent study (that controlled for factors such as energy expenditure, energy intake, and sleep) found that the late eaters lost less weight and had a slower weight loss than those who ate earlier in the day.  Breakfast eaters weigh less than those who skip; this study gives credence to the oft-repeated advice to eat a healthy breakfast.
Avoid self-sabotage and eat most of your calories earlier in the day.  At the very least you will have more energy, and you may found the pounds come (or stay) off easier.

International Journal of Obesity , (29 January 2013) | doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.229M

February 2, 2013

Super Fitness Bowl

Instead of a drinking game how about fitness game during the Super Bowl? 

For each beer commercial do 10 squats.
For each touchdown do 10 lunges.
For each reference to Super Bowl 47 do 10 jumping jacks.
For each field goal jog in place for 60 seconds.
For each point after do a 30 second plank.
For each mention of  brothers do 10 chair dips.
For each fumble do 10 pushups.
For each car commercial do 10 burpees.
Dance during the halftime show.

January 27, 2013

Don't Ask Your Doctor

I have said it many times myself; “Ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.”, and yes, you should get medical clearance, but do not expect your doctor to give you much guidance on what to do.  In fact, most doctors admit to having little training or much success in helping patients adapt a healthy lifestyle.  A recent study found that only 44% of primary care physicians had any success in helping obese patients lose weight.  Most physicians felt they needed more education in nutrition and exercise to be able to help their patients.
So what does this mean for you?  One biggie is not to assume that your weight is fine if your doctor says nothing about it.  Since they are not prepared to deal with it, many physicians chose not to discuss it.  High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can often be cured by exercising and losing weight, but your doctor may not have training to help with this. It is easier to give a patient a cholesterol-lowering drug than to counsel him or her on lifestyle changes. If your doctor does offer advice to exercise, do not assume that he or she knows current exercise guidelines or standards.
These are some examples of bad advice physicians have given my clients:
·        “Keep your heart rate below 140.”  This to a pregnant client; alluding to a guideline that was updated in 1995.
·        “Do some stretching.”  This to an obese client with diabetes and high cholesterol. Not that stretching is bad, but it will do little to help her lose weight or lower her blood sugar and cholesterol.
·        “Don’t do squats.”  This to a client with torn cartilage who wanted to continue playing tennis.  Squats are the cornerstone of a knee rehab program.
 In sum; take charge of your own health; you do not need a doctor to tell you to lose weight.  If your doctor does offer advice on exercise, get a second opinion.

January 20, 2013

10- 20- 30 to Impressive Results

If you want to get fitter, faster or slimmer, then interval training is the way to go: There is no right or wrong way to do interval training.  Almost any formula of high intensity intervals alternating with intervals of low intensity will increase your fitness level in a shorter amount of time than steady state training.  (See post: for more on high intensity training). One easy to follow formula is the 10-20-30 plan.  You can do this with any type of aerobic training. 
Go as fast as you can for 10 seconds, (sprint, walk or pedal your hardest), decrease to a moderate speed for 20 seconds, then maintain an easy pace for 30 seconds.  Do this for about 5 minutes, rest with a very easy pace for 2 minutes, and then repeat 3-4 more times.Cool down and you are done! 
Try this 2-3 times a week (but not 2 days in a row), and you will see your speed and fitness level increase while your workout time decreases.

January 13, 2013

Balance Your Way To A Better Butt

Balance is an oft-ignored part of fitness, at least until we get older and start worrying about falls.  Working on one leg is an effective way to improve balance. It can also help you get a stronger core while you strengthen your legs and butt.
When you stand on one leg you force your stabilizers to work, especially those deep in the hip.  These are especially important as we age.  You can do a variety of exercises on one leg; squats, calf raises, and upper body exercises such as a shoulder press or biceps curl.. 
One of the best exercises for balance, core and glut strength is a one legged deadlift.  (I did not make up these names).  Start without a weight, and work up to holding weights.

Stand with your legs hip width apart, with your right leg in front of your left.

Keep the right knee bent throughout.   Place all of your weight into your right foot, so that your left heel is off the ground.  Maintain the normal arch of your back (do not round or over arch it), and “hinge” from the hip to bring the spine parallel to the ground. 
 Try to relax your neck, do not allow your head to drop down or arch up.  Keep this alignment and straighten back up.  You will feel your core and right glut doing most of the work.  Aim for eight reps on each leg, and gradually increase. Once you are comfortable with this, try it holding your back leg off the ground.

Your balance, abs and butt will all thank you.

January 6, 2013

Salvage Your Resolutions

How are those resolutions doing?  It is not too late to start anew.  However, instead of sweeping resolutions that you are unlikely to fulfill, scale it down to ensure success.
Start small; it takes about six weeks for a new habit to form. 
Here are some suggestions for easy changes to make:

  • Drink a glass of water before every meal.
  • Get up every 15 minutes while at work.
  • Stand up and walk while you are on the phone.
  • Park at the furthest spot from your destination.
  • Keep your workout clothes out and ready.
  • Write your workout schedule into your daily planner.
  • Turn off the computer one hour before bed.
  • Use an app to keep track of your food and exercise.  ( is a good one).
  • Eat with your non dominant hand.
  • Give up one soda per day.
  • Eat off a smaller plate.
Aim for one small change every six weeks, success will keep you motivated. By years end you will feel and look better than ever.