Written on February 26, 2015 at 10:38 am , by Mallory Creveling
Remember that goal you set a little over a month ago? The one about losing weight or exercising more? According to data from Gold’s Gym, that motivation you had on January 1st is probably waning right now. In fact, February 24th (deemed the “fitness cliff”) is the day that check-in numbers drop and never rebound. But we want you to defy those odds and get pumped about getting in shape again. So we asked Jeff Na, vice president of fitness for Gold’s Gym, to reveal his top tips for boosting your enthusiasm for health. “The only difference between January 1st and February 24th is prioritization,” he says. Make exercise a must-do again, reevaluate what you wanted to achieve and why, and adopt these ideas to get back on track.
Focus on the details
“The clients who see the best results come in not just with a goal in mind but with the steps for how to get there,” says Na. So if you made a general target of dropping 10 pounds, figure out a realistic time frame for getting there (probably about five weeks), how often you’ll exercise and healthy meal options. Then put each workout and kitchen prep day on your calendar so you can plan ahead. If want to remove the guesswork, sign up for a program like Gold’s Gym 12-Week Transformation Plan or Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation.
Find something exciting
Even before you start feeling bored with your usual routine, you should have an idea of how to switch things up and keep your regimen fresh. Otherwise, when your workout starts feeling too bland, it’ll fall to your B-list of priorities. Look at your local health club’s schedule to see if one of the classes seems enticing, or chat with a fitness-loving friend for a suggestion. “Group classes are great for workout newbies because they give you a sense of community and some professional instruction,” says Na. You may find that Pilates or Spinning naturally keeps you coming back for more. If you can’t get to a class, try a new walking route or fitness DVD. Adding variety to your schedule keeps you interested mentally and challenges your muscles physically so you don’t hit a plateau.
Reduce injury risk
Many people skip a proper warm-up and cool-down, but going from no movement to intense exercise or stopping immediately afterward increases your risk of strained ligaments or other overuse issues—which puts you off the workout wagon longer. Just take an easy stroll for about five minutes to up your heart rate and lightly stretch any tight muscles. When you’re done sweating it out, take another five minutes for deeper stretches.
Get back to basics
“Your body is your best machine,” says Na. “That’s why fitness professionals often recommend body-weight-only exercises—they translate to the movements you do in everyday life and make them easier.” So squeeze in some squats, lunges, push-ups and rows whenever you can. And when your body gets sick of those moves, add resistance with dumbbells or bands.
Make it a family affair
You shouldn’t be the only one at home who’s moving more often. Get the kids involved in your physical plans by doing a yoga DVD together or taking a walk outside (just bundle up!). Try organizing a quick team workout by doing jumping jacks before dinner or running in place during the commercials of your favorite show. It gives you time to bond with your kids and get everyone healthier, plus you’ll set an active trend for your teens and tweens to mimic when they’re older.
Don’t forget food
If you haven’t seen any results, it may be because you haven’t paid enough attention to your diet. Keep a journal for one week, writing down everything you eat, and then figure out what you need to cut back on. It’s best to munch on more foods that are close to their original source (read: no pre-packaged meals) and to create a realistic diet plan. For instance, if you aim to cut out all sweets, you’ll probably want to revert to your overeating habits in a few days. Instead, make portion sizes smaller.
Written on December 12, 2014 at 11:51 am , by Mallory Creveling
Dessert trays, cocktail parties, big family meals—it’s the perfect combo for a happy holiday, but for a trim waistline? Not so much. Of course, occasional indulging is okay, but to stop you from overdoing it, we pinged Amanda Butler, a trainer at NYC’s BFX studio, a boutique gym that offers classes like barre, group cycling and circuit workouts. She gave her top exercising and eating tips for keeping the number on the scale steady throughout the season.
1. Take Four for Fitness
Making time to break a sweat will torch some of those calories from pie and cake. To quickly maximize the burn, try a Tabata routine—a type of high-intensity interval training that requires you to push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds and repeat for eight rounds. That’s just four minutes of work!
The move Amanda says works best to sculpt from head to toe: burpees. To tackle this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, then jump your feet behind you so you’re in a push-up position. Perform one push-up. Next, jump your feet forward toward your arms, then stand and jump straight up, clapping your hands over your head. You’ll burn approximately 75 calories in just four minutes with this move—that’s about one chocolate chip cookie. For similar results without the full-on burpee, alternate jump squats and push-ups (you can put your knees on the floor to modify it) for your 20-second intervals.
2. Keep Moving
While you’re waiting to take the ham or casserole out of the oven, do a few quick moves, such as triceps dips or step-ups with the kitchen chair. It always helps to take the stairs and walk more too, so park farther from the mall entrance or grocery store to get more steps.
3. Grab and Go
At the dessert table, put the two treats you love the most on your plate and walk away. Enjoy each bite and then start a conversation with someone at a spot located away from the sweets so you’re not tempted to snag more.
4. Graze at a Slow Pace
When you’re having a group dinner, eat slowly and put your utensils down every now and then to help you do so. Savor the flavors and pay attention to how you feel. If you let out a big sigh from being so full, it’s definitely time to stop nibbling.
5. Plan for Celebrations
Don’t show up to your company’s or friend’s bash on an empty stomach. Have a snack, like an apple, before you go so you’re not feeling ravenous and ready to scarf down whatever you see first. Also, sip water between cocktails and swap the sugar- and fat-filled choices, such as eggnog or a flavored martini, for lighter beverages, like a vodka soda with lime or red wine.
6. Mentally (and Socially) Prepare
Give yourself a little pep talk before a full day of dining so you’re ready to turn down the second (or third) helping. And let others know you’re trying to watch your weight so they don’t peer pressure you into having more food and drinks.
Written on August 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm , by Family Circle
In our September “Dr. Mom Knows Best” feature, internist Katherine Chretien, M.D., offered smart advice on making a nutritious dinner in a pinch, the #1 thing you can do for your health and more. For this guest post, Dr. Chretien reveals what inspires her to exercise. And it’s probably not what you think.
I lost my regular exercise motivation for the same reason I lost the will to wash and blow-dry my hair every day: pregnancy. Was it the fatigue or the mobility of a beached whale? I’m not sure I’ll ever know. But I do know that my once-regular habit of exercising several times a week went missing and I didn’t go looking for it.
Meanwhile, my husband, also a doctor, is a bit of the overachiever when it comes to exercise. He’s run many marathons and even competed in a couple of IRONMAN triathlons (that’s code for races for the insane). He had been trying to get me back into some kind of regular exercise for years. Not because I let myself go—at least I hope not—but because he felt it was important for my health. After all, he would be the one pushing me around in a wheelchair someday. I agreed in theory, but when, pray tell, would I exercise in between caring for all these kids and working? The whole idea sounded unpleasant, if not impossible.
Then one day, I came across research that showed people who engaged in regular exercise were less likely to develop dementia. As an internist who takes care of hospitalized patients, many of whom are elderly, I am terrified of developing dementia and not knowing where I am, who I am or what decade I’m living in. Sure, there are sweet-as-pie patients with dementia, “pleasantly confused,” as they are often described. But there are also mean ones who try to take out the staff with cans of Ensure, as if they’re at a booth at a county fair. If exercise can stave off dementia, please pass my sneakers.
So, I decided it was time to get back into the exercise habit. I started S-L-O-W, riding the recumbent bike at the gym while reading guilty pleasure celebrity magazines a few times a week. I didn’t sweat a single drop, mind you, but it felt somewhat nice to be moving with purpose. I further motivated myself by purchasing a few cute new workout outfits to replace the tent-like leftover maternity yoga tops I had been wearing.
It’s been a couple of months now, and I’ve progressed to running a few miles a few times a week. Don’t get me wrong: an elderly person using a walker might lap me, but I’m sweating now and getting a serious workout. It feels GREAT. I’m making time for it and hoping this habit sticks (and dementia doesn’t). The added benefits of a healthy heart and stress reduction are nice bonuses. More importantly, I feel like I’m making regular deposits in the long-term investment that is me. Body and mind.
Need motivation to get exercising again? Visit a local nursing home. It worked for me.
How do you keep yourself motivated to work out? Post a comment and let me know!
Katherine Chretien, M.D., is an internist, mother of three and associate professor of medicine at George Washington University. She is editor/founder of the group blog, Mothers in Medicine (www.mothersinmedicine.com) and runs very slowly.