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.