Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The holiday season is upon us, starting this Thursday with Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas and New Year's. This is weight gain season for a lot of folks but it doesn't have to be.
Even with the parties, the bigger than usual meals, and the trays of goodies people bring to the office, you don't have to get fat or fatter. You don't have to put on a pound. Just continue with your exercise program and practice moderation in your eating. Gluttony doesn't have to be part of your holidays.
I'm spending Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's house this year. That means a relish tray, a beef roast, a ham, a turkey, all the fixings and most likely three kinds of pies. I don't eat pork so I can skip the ham but the rest of it is going to be tempting. There will be pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and cherry cheese pie which is kind of like cherry cheesecake only better and it weighs in at approximately a kazillion calories per slice. But it sure is good.
If you read my yesterday's blog, you know I'm not going to skip my workout but I am going to practice moderation in my eating. I used to eat myself sick on Thanksgiving. Then I started to back off and just eat until I was mildly uncomfortable. This year I'm going to show restraint and eat until almost full and stop. It's going to be difficult but I'm going to do it. I will practice moderation. I've worked hard this last year and I don't want to go backwards even half a step.
Remember, this is Thanksgiving, not Eat Until You Feel Like Puking Day. So give thanks. Enjoy your family and friends. Eat a good meal. In moderation, of course. And if you must have a piece of pie, make it a small one. Skip the whipped cream.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I'm taking Wednesday off.
If you've read one of my previous posts, you know that doesn't happen very often but it will on Wednesday.
Here's why: I'm a route salesman and I have so many stops I have to make every week. With Thursday being a holiday I won't work. I can't work on Saturday so I have to split my Thursday stops up between Wednesday and Friday. I'm going to be home late Wednesday so I've decided ahead of time that I'm just going to rest.
I will actually do something. Every morning I do a short series of exercises to get me ready for the day but I won't be doing a workout when I get home.
Friday will be late also but it should be better than Wednesday. I may have to do a shorter workout but I will do something. And I will be hitting it hard on Thanksgiving to try to work of some those extra calories. I'm going to try not to indulge and overeat like I'm prone to do. We'll see. Regardless, I will do a workout.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow I'm going to talk about moderation--not a popular subject around the holidays but it's a good one.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
You are what you eat. Or to put it another way, you reap the results of what you choose to put in your mouth. You give the body good fuel, it rewards you with better health, more energy, less sickness, etc. You feed it junk and it just doesn't run right.
You can read a hundred different "experts" and get a hundred different opinions on what the best food is. I'm not going to argue that but I do have my opinions. What I am going to do for the most part here is tell you what you shouldn't eat.
First and foremost, the bane of modern civilization, is soda. You get absolutely no nutrition, empty calories, and lots of chemicals and harmful acids. Even if you drink diet pop, you're still getting chemicals and acids. It's no good and if you care about your health, you shouldn't drink the stuff. It was hard for me to give up my beloved Mountain Dew but I did and feel much better for it.
Hydrogenated oils are another on the list shouldn't be consumed. It's not natural. It's created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils. There have been many studies done indicating the harmful consequences of hydrogenated fat products. Do a search and find some if you're interested. One study I read even linked skin cancer to it's consumption. This particular study said sun exposure doesn't cause skin cancer unless one also consumes hydrogenated oils. People who get lots of sun but don't consume this product have very low rates of skin cancer. Bottom line is that it's no good and should be avoided.
Don't eat white. By this I mean white flour, white sugar, white rice, etc. They provide calories with very little nutrition. Eat whole grain products, brown rice, and use honey or maple syrup or raw sugar as a sweetener if you must. At least the raw sugar does provide some needed minerals which white sugar is lacking. Is a piece of birthday cake on your child's birthday going to kill you? No it won't but few and far between is best if you can't or won't do away with it all together.
High fructose corn syrup is another and it's in most sodas as well as lots of different processed foods from bread to ketchup to salad dressings to snack items. Read labels and avoid if you can. Once again, there are lots of studies done about this which you can find if you care to look.
Regardless of what else you eat, if you stay away from these things you can't help but improve your health. I think almost everyone would benefit by avoiding these and adding lots of fresh vegetables, particularly the green variety. A large salad a day would do wonders. Raw fruits, nuts, and seeds are other items most of us could stand to eat more of.
I don't think there's a one size fits all diet plan. One needs to be flexible regarding one's own individual needs, metabolism, genetics, health problems, etc. Some can eats lots of grains to good effect, others can't. Nevertheless, avoiding the bad and concentrating the bulk of one's calories on the good, you can't help but be better for it.
Remember, you are what you eat. Garbage in, you will get garbage out. It's that simple.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Excuses used to be part of my exercise life. I would go great guns for awhile but when something came up--anything--I would use that as an excuse to skip a workout. Skip one, then it's easier to skip the next. Pretty soon I wasn't working out at all. After awhile I'd make a decision to start again and would until the next excuse came along. It's hard to make consistent gains in strength and conditioning if you're consistent at making excuses. On the bright side, at least I was consistent at something.
So what I had to do is adapt a "no excuses" policy. I do take days off on occasion but it's planned ahead. On a workout day which is most days, I no longer accept excuses. Some days may be lighter than others because of time restraints but I do do something.
For example last Friday I worked later than normal. When I got done my wife was starting dinner and I thought I might as well skip the workout. But wait. You have a "no excuses" policy. Don't you remember? Yes I remembered. I found out when dinner would be ready and got my jump rope out for a quick workout. I jumped for a minute, then did 20 pushups and 20 flutter kicks. I did this 5 times without rest except on the last one I did 50 pushups and 100 flutter kicks. I got in a short intense workout in the time I had available. I could have made excuses but I chose not to.
Sunday evening I came down with a headache. I made some changes to my diet. I'm trying to eat a high alkaline, low acid diet and one of the side affects is a detox. The headache is most likely related to that.
Monday I was hurting bad but when it came time to workout, I didn't use it as an excuse. I did a full workout anyway. I had to dial back the intensity and take it a little slower than usual. I normally do body weight circuits with no rest in between. I had to take 10-20 seconds rest in between some exercises but I got my workout in.
It's now late Wednesday afternoon and the head ache is still there but getting much better. Hopefully it will be gone soon. But I have been doing my workouts and today I was able to go a little harder than the last 2 days- not full speed yet- but harder.
Things happen and someday when I just simply can't get in a workout when I wanted to, I'll just have to live with it and move on. I won't beat myself up over it. Life sometimes just gets in the way. I might have to drop down and do set a pushups and call it good. Oh well.
The bottom line is that fitness is not something you do for a day or a week or a month. It's a lifetime thing. You either do it or you don't. I'm into the middle age category now, and God willing, I will someday grow old. But when I reach my golden years, I want to enter them fit and healthy. I won't do that if I don't keep up with it now. Retreat is impossible and I refuse to surrender. So I make no excuses. I'm marching forward....
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
No, I'm not talking about making your workout more environmentally friendly but I do suppose you could cut out taking those mostly indigestible protein powders on the market and thus decrease your own personal emissions of greenhouse gases. I'm sure your workout partners would appreciate it. But that's another subject for another time.
I'm talking about going green in the form of powdered green drinks--that stuff that looks kind of like pond scum mixed in water. Let me tell you about my accidental discovery.
I did a very difficult workout one day and felt like I was going to drop dead any second. I didn't and a few days later I was going to repeat that workout. Before doing it a second time, I mixed a glass of greens and drank it down. I did the workout with no problems and felt rather good at the end.
I experimented. I tried to do the same workouts around the same times of day under the same conditions. The workouts in which I drank the greens, I finished quicker, felt better, and had much more energy at the end. I was onto something.
I did some research as to why. I haven't yet found an exact answer but from what I have found, I believe it has to do with acid-alkaline balance. Exercise is an acid producing activity. Lactic acid is produced in the muscles and other acid forming reactions occur when the body is under the stress of exercise. The body operates better in an alkaline state. A lot of the foods and beverages we consume like sodas, coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, junk food, and meat are all acidic. Most people are probably chronically over acidic.
The high alkalinity of the greens help to counteract the acids produced by exercise and that allows the body to continue longer in a more efficient state. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
If you want to try this and see if it works for you, there are some things to look for when choosing a green drink. First, get one with no nutritional yeast added. Some green mixes have it added as filler. Regardless of where you stand on nutritional yeast as a food, it's acidic when consumed and would negate some of the alkaline benefits of consuming the greens.
Second, stay away from mixes that have seaweed and other water vegetables added. The reason is two-fold. Some people have an adverse reaction to plants from water and if you don't know the conditions from which they were harvested, you may be getting a lot of contamination even if all the land plants are organic. Also, mixes without the kelp, dulse, etc. taste a whole lot better. Trust me on this one.
Third, get one with organic ingredients that are low temperature air dried. This will retain a greater portion of the nutrients found in the plants. A big bowl of salad would, of course, be better but it would be hard to eat enough at one sitting to get the punch of alkalinity found in one glass of a green drink which absorbs fast and gives you an instant alkaline boost.
If you try this, I would be very interested to hear your experiences. It works well for me and I think you would be pleasantly surprised. Thanks for stopping by.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The human body was made to move. Plain and simple. In other words, if you want to get in shape, you can't do it by sitting on the couch in front of the TV wishing you weren't so fat and in better condition. You have to go out and do something about it. You have to move.
There are a lot of "experts" out there who are willing to tell you how to get in shape. Most of them want you to pay them first but I can't blame them for trying to make a living. The trouble with it is that if you have never seriously exercised before or haven't in a long time, the different modalities and opinions can be a little bewildering.
I like body weight exercises and I do them mostly in non stop circuits or circuits with very little rest in between. I do other things also but this is my favorite way to exercise. But it's not the only way. And what you do needs to depend a lot on your goals.
If you want to go to the Olympics as a weight lifter, then you need to practice Olympic lifts. If you want to complete a marathon, you need to run. If you want to lose weight and get in better shape, you need to eat right and do something--anything--just move.
The options are almost limitless in what you can do and how you do it. You can lift heavy weights and low reps or light weights and high reps. You can do it fast or slow. You can use kettlebells or clubs. You can sweat to the oldies. You can jog, sprint, walk, hop, jump rope or a host of other things. Or you can do body weight exercises.
The advantage that body weight exercises have over some others is that you need no equipment. You can drop down and do some pushups anywhere. For pullups you can use a tree branch or playground equipment down at the local park. It doesn't cost anything and you can get strong and fit using by using your own body.
Regardless of what method or methods you choose, you need to choose something you like and stick with. The best exercise program in the world (and almost everyone claims theirs is the best) won't do you any good if you don't actually do the exercises.
No, thinking about it just won't cut it. You have to do something. So what are you waiting for? Get out and move already.