A recent news report stated that 80% of us spend at least two hours a day sitting at in front of a computer, be it desktop or laptop. A large percentage of the teen and adult populations spend upwards of 5-8 hours! So how does all that time spent in a stationary and postural distorting positions affect your fitness goals?
On the “fitness friend” side of things, many people utilize a myriad of on-line sources to assist their fitness goals in a positive way. Whether exercising to YouTube videos, entering their nutrition into MyFoodDiary, or printing healthy recipes off Pinterest, these are examples of a computer contributing to your fitness success.
However, on the “enemy” side of things, long exposure to computer-posture along with the simple act of being sedentary for extended periods of time definitely bodes badly for your fitness goals. From neck and shoulder strain, to weakness in hips and sciatic nerves not to mention the obvious fact that you’re just not up and moving enough to burn calories and strengthen muscles — all of which sets you up for fitness failure.
So for those of you who cannot (or will not) change their daily quantity of computer-sitting, I propose a compromise. For every hour you sit (or slouch) in front of a computer you must spend five minutes performing a rotation of “isolated-stretches,” “cardio-bursts,” and “muscle wake-ups.”
I suspect many of you are talking to your computer screens right now heatedly informing me that you don’t know what those are! or I can’t get sweaty at my job. Relax, I promise these are easy, relatively light on the sweat index, and the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience of five minutes of your time spent on YOU!
Stand up and run through the following circuit of total body isolated (where you work one muscle group at a time) exercises:
Head rolls: gently roll your head to the right, back, left and front (chin to chest) 5 times, then reverse direction 5 times. Make sure you keep shoulders down and relaxed.
Shoulder shrugs: with arms relaxed at your sides, bring shoulders up to your ears and then roll them back (squeezing shoulder blades together) and then down. Repeat 5 times.
Arm circles: Take your right arm and reach (stretch) back behind you slowly circling the arm up over-head, and then down in front of you – 5 times then reverse direction starting the circle in front of you, up over head, then behind. Repeat for left arm.
Hip Swings: standing with feet wide apart and knees slightly bent, place your hands on your hips and swing hips back and forth to the right then left, then back and front (10 each direction).
Stationary Lunges: step back with your right leg, stretching it out behind you while keeping left knee bent to a right angle (do NOT push knee out over toe). Slowly bounce up and down stretching hips and glutes (butt) 10 times, then switch legs.
Any and all other body parts are great to stretch at your discretion, i.e., feet/ankles, wrists, abs, back, neck, etc. I’ve given you the basic areas that get tight with lots of computer-posture sitting.
5 minutes of any type of rapid-fire, total body cardio-based exercises are what’s recommended here. Examples: jumping jacks, burpees, jump squats, jump lunges, or a mixture of all of them.
MUSCLE WAKE UPS:
These are exercises that utilize only body weight but allow you to wake up a large group of muscles. Recommended amount is 10-25 reps, 3-5 sets. Focus on only one, or mix and match.
Push ups (hands on the floor)
Incline push ups (hands on a desk, bench, or wall)
Triceps Dips (hands on desk, bench, or stationary chair)
I’m still shocked these days to find a plethora of fitness-minded individuals still placing value in fad diets. A week does not go by where I don’t hear someone dissing carbs, or talking about how drinking hot-lemon-honey-cinnamon-cayenne water helped them boost their metabolism. Facebook, Pinterest and other social media sites are littered with the next best superfood that we should O.D. on. On my Tumblr account this week I slammed the photo below for promoting the idea that a single food can burn belly fat.
People people people, listen to me: no one food, or food combination will help you get those six pack abs – especially as a stand-alone concept. Granted, if you eat foods that build muscle and help your liver to keep sugars under control ALONG with consistent and effective exercise (resistance training and cardio), you will burn fat from your body. But let me also remind you that there is no way to spot reduce the fat from an area of your body. While you can tone specific muscle groups, where your body burns the fat from is still more random than you might think. If you radically curtail your food consumption while over-ramping your calorie burn, you will lose fat, but you will also lose muscle and more importantly, the fat may come from other areas of your body before the desired zone (i.e., your face or bosom before your belly or butt).
I know that all of this stems from society’s desire to do things quickly — see results fast with as little work or discomfort as possible. Unfortunately life has proven repeatedly that, as trite as this personal trainer common quip sounds — NO PAIN NO GAIN is reality when it comes to changing your body. That doesn’t mean abusive pain, but it does mean giving up a quantity of things you love and keeping your body moving despite soreness.
Once again I want to remind all of you that fad diets do not work – or rather do not work for long. As I stated only last week (Success Comes with Consistency) diets are temporary. But fad diets are worse because they strictly restrict what you eat, forcing your body to try and obtain a full range of nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats from a very limited source. Their failure rate is even higher than a simple calorie restricting diet because most people find the limited fad-foods boring within a very quick period.
So back away from that Pinterest post that claims you can lose 5 lbs and increase your metabolism by eating grapefruits, almonds, and green tea exclusively for a week. It’s not worth it even if it were to work, because as soon as you reintroduce all the other foods you still crave, the 5 lbs will return, and your body will be pissed off at you and likely not let you lose 5 lbs the same way again.
If you want to change your nutrition in a permanent way, I’ve given you lots of tips within this blog, and I offer a very affordable meal plan that will be customized to your lifestyle, and food tastes (Workouts247.com). Now go eat something healthy and stop starving your body!
Okay, it’s that time of year – the holidays – time for parties and feasts and drinking and less time for exercising when you’re spending all that times partaking in vast quantities of delicious calories. The annual dilemma shared by many is how to attend all these parties and holiday dinners without putting on extra fat.
The answer is to NOT to avoid the festivities like several of my clients have suggested. No, the better solution is to apply a few tricks of the fitness trade to shave off some of the fat (both via smarter nutrition choices and squeezing in extra exercise).
Here’s a few tips to help you have your cake (or pumpkin pie) and eat it too!
1. Before attending any holiday party, have a small serving of raw, steamed or lightly sautéed veggies. These veggies will ensure that you are not feeling overly-hungry and thus prone to over-indulging. Also, they will provide you with a nice layer of fiber which will keep you regular in spite of ingesting higher-fat and slower digesting foods.
2. If you are in charge of any of the holiday feasts or parties, try using a healthier menu for the same food favorites. Example: If you must have traditional green bean casserole (green beans, cheese, cream of mushroom soup), trying using either non-fat or organic cream of mushroom soup (available at most grocery stores) and vegan cheese. Or make your fresh apple pies with ½ the amount of suggested sugar AND change out refined white or brown sugar for coconut sugar, xylitol, or maple syrup. (The internet is littered with great options for leaner recipes of traditional foods – google or scan Pinterest for ideas.)
3. If an event offers a buffet (as many corporate parties do), check out the offerings first, then decide what dishes you most want and use the “Rule of Five” – 2 proteins, 2 fun carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), and 1 dessert. Keep your portions small, and wait 10 minutes before attempting seconds. You will likely find yourself full if you can wait a little while. Otherwise, hit the dance floor (if dancing is offered) and work up the need for more fuel.
4. Booze – do not forget that alcohol has sugar and that messes with your body’s blood sugar, which in turn messes with how you digest your food and how much gets stored as fat. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks max (in a 2-3 hour period). This will not only keep your fat levels under control, but will likely not get you a DUI either!
5. As for exercise, take a daily walk with family, the dogs, or even by yourself. Just one average paced mile can level out your insides from the decadent dish or cocktails the night before. When out shopping, park further away, all those extra steps add up! During time off, engage more with the kids. If you have long trips facing you, break them up with challenges at rest stops or airports (jumping jacks, incline push ups off the backs of chairs, air-squats, lunge walks through the terminal).
6. Lastly, do not forget to drink plenty of water. High sodium foods, alcohol, and excessive refined sugar deplete the body of hydration. Water will keep these toxins flushed and your fat retention will be lower.
So go enjoy, but remember MODERATION makes for a balance between health and enjoying the decadent holidays to their fullest. That’s all any of us can ask for.
The Yo-Yo Diet:
Most adults nowadays understand that yo-yo dieting does not work for keeping your body’s composition lower in fat (remember it’s not weight loss, but fat loss we strive for). But many people still yo-yo without even realizing it. I have clients tell me all the time that they ate less on the days they didn’t work out, or they suffered through a longer cardio session to burn off the calories consumed the night before. While I do suggest, as an elementary rule of “eating” thumb that you burn more calories than you ingest, that does not mean that you should do it in a random whenever you think it’s right manner. The reality is that if you are working consistently (and effectively) on building or maintaining lean muscle mass (that does not imply you’re massive), then your nutrition needs to be consistent as well.
I tend to work out 4-5 days in a row, followed by 1-2 days of rest. I eat the same amount on the days off because I know that my muscles are burning up calories and fat even when I’m at rest, and if I want them to stay lean, I need to keep the fuel (especially protein) constant. Even if I have an evening out enjoying richer foods and wine or alcohol, I know that staying consistent with my nutrition and exercise in the following days will balance me out far better than binge exercising in response to binge eating.
A hot nutrition trend recently is that of eating meals backwards: starting your day with dinner (or a higher-caloric meal), progressing to lunch, and ending with a light breakfast type meal (eggs or yogurt+granola), etc. Many swear by this as being a successful approach to changing their body composition. Sure it works – it works because you are eating more earlier in the day, therefore having the fuel needed to get through your busy day, and eating less in the evening when you are sedentary.
In truth, you could still eat breakfast first and dinner last – as long as you followed the same concept of larger meals early, lighter meals later. But it is not the fact that you started with baked chicken and ended with yogurt that made the difference!
This topic piggy-backs a bit on the Yo-Yo myth, but deserves its own section as there are two types of cleanses to address.
First up is are the rampant breakfast cleanses-drink-recipes littering Pinterest Pins, Tumblr, and Instagram. The current headlining fads range from starting your day with 8 ozs of warm water, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper or cinnamon or 8 ozs of ice-cold water. Both claim to flush the liver and kidneys and get/keep the colon working efficiently – and both may work. But so does non-stop water consumption throughout the day, and a meal plan rich in fiber and whole unprocessed foods.
The second type of cleanses are days/weeks where an individual consumes nothing but fresh extracted juices (some suggest whole juices with fiber kept in, others want squeezed juices minus the fiber-rich pulp). Either way, if you drink nothing but liquid for 2-5 days, your scale weight will go down. But what have you lost? Fat? Depending upon your physical shape to begin with as well as the nutrition you resume once the “cleanse” is done, you will not lose fat and you if you do, it will come back if the rest of your nutrition habits are not healthy.
There are undoubtedly a myriad of other food myths I could address herein, but my real goal today is to remind everyone once again of my motto:
Everything in Moderation!
Following it is your best bet for long-term body-fat reduction and management, and a body that can keep up with your physical needs for decades.
One of the first things I address when coaching a Business Development client is about growing their business through the use of Social Networking. Business off all sizes have embraced the use of Social Networking as a marketing tool. These entities are not just purchasing Facebook ads and the like, but creating business pages wherein customers and clients can interact with the business. It’s quick, it’s relatively easy (once you understand how they work), and its free PR and advertising.
Now you may already appreciate the need for social network marketing, but many small business owners tend to assign either too much or too little attention to this fast rising facet of small business marketing. If you spend too much time on it, you will likely lose two to three hours a day of your valuable time setting up and updating the myriad of pages necessary to achieve full search engine optimization and the free marketing that comes from multiple site accounts. Spend too little time and you will miss out on the aforementioned benefits.
Once you’ve established your business’s social sites, an often ignored step is to track your audience. After a few months, you will learn which sites gain you the most attention (and subsequently more business), which types of postings generate the most buzz, etc. Then you can customize your marketing plan to prioritize the times, styles, and quantities of your postings to these sites.
Which leads us to the third issue: who will conduct your business’s social networking. If you are a small start-up business or sole-practitioner, then it will undoubtedly fall upon your shoulders to be the Social Networking Coordinator. The problem is that as previously stated, this can be very time-consuming, especially if you are not very adept at utilizing these sites. Conversely, you likely do not have a budget to hire someone to be that coordinator. This is when planning is key. With a well-defined marketing plan, you can designate which sites are most effective to your business, and schedule a small chunk of weekly time (although daily is preferred) to conduct your posts and updates.
Whether you are an old-school business owner less interested or adept at utilizing the social networks, or an aggressive new-age entrepreneur, let me give you a quick crash course on understanding the differences between each of these famous networks. Understanding the demographics that swim within each site will better help any business owner know where and what to post to gain maximum marketing effect.
Although FB has lately experienced a downturn in attendance from younger demographics (12-21), this is still the best place to promote your home-grown business to the demographic that holds the purse strings – adults/parents. Sales, promotions, or eye-catching posts placed during early mornings (as they get to work) and post-dinner (after the kids are fed) will likely gain you the most attention. But FB fans from the ages of 21-55 have FB linked to their smart phones or playing the background of the desktops and can keep an eye on activity all throughout the day, which you should capitalize on.
Twitter is fast paced and more geared towards people talking rather than listening. If your followers are following more than 100 hundred accounts, unless you tweet constantly, your tweets will likely be missed. (The “news feed” flows by very fast when hundreds of twitterers are all twittering at once!) But one key here is that you can link your Twitter and FB pages together so that any Tweet from you is automatically repeated on FB. Now you have achieved instant double marketing.
The primary demographic on this site is women, ages 20-60. Their main focuses: fitness, food, fashion, crafts, travel, and family. If your business is suited to this audience, you should be all over this site. Once again, the beauty of cross-linking is that you can have this site link to twitter and FB. Post once, it can automatically be on 3 sites. Having “boards” (boards and pins within those boards are the basic platform here) that cover not only what your service/product is, but arenas that relate will gain you many followers quickly. (E.g., your product is salsa, so having boards about cooking, recipes, organic foods, parties, would increase your view rate.)
Definitely the preferred site for the younger demographic and not a great self-advertising platform, but depending upon your products’ age focus, this site could definitely give you a leg up on the competition if you approach it youthfully enough. It’s really a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, blending photos with quick commentary.
This is the site if you want to do a little of this and a little of that. You can have blog-length entries, you can post a picture with a small caption, you can leave a twitter length statement, or you can update the world on your world. The primary audience for Tumbler is on the younger side, but again, it’s all about your business and who it suits. Like FB, friends tend to chat back and forth, but like Twitter and Instagram it’s quick and well supported by smart phones.
LinkedIn helps you create essential contact and reciprocal relationships with businesses, suppliers, and clients. You can give and receive recommendations, all of which help legitimize your business/services, and post updates on your business’s achievements and growth. Once again, this site offers links to Twitter, and if you have twitter liked to FB, then there’s another 3-for-1 posting.
There are a many more sites all of which may or may not have something to offer your business, only you can ascertain that by perusing those sites (i.e., Digg, Flicker, Blogger, YouTube, WordPress, etc.). But I’ve listed the cream of the crop in my estimation as far as business promotion is concerned. Hopefully this helps you better understand this new world of internet self-promotion. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to set up a Business Development or Social Network Marketing consultation.
How many times a day do you worry about your weight? Do you spend hours wishing you looked differently, obsessing about what you’re eating (or not eating), and/or trying every single “get six pack abs” video, exercise pins on Pinterest, and/or radical weight loss diets?
We are a Nation of obsessed bodies! I have clients, friends, and family who spend massive amounts of time fretting over what they can eat, when they can eat, and how they can change their diets to accommodate quick weight loss, while still enjoying all the things they love to eat and drink. First everyone followed The Zone, now it’s Paleo; P90X was replaced with Insanity (literally).
On DLF’s Pinterest page (http://pinterest.com/DaneLifeFit/), I see at least 25 new and different “these are the best exercises for toning the abs” pins every day! Of course, many of the people (mostly women) who pin these to their boards might not remember (or know) that the models in the pictures are usually women in their early 20’s, who work out 2-3 hours a day, and eat a very strict and regimented diet.
I am routinely questioned by clients obsessed with reinventing the workout to affect a change faster and better: is alternating sprints with incline walking better use of a treadmill than 40 minutes of straight running? Are core workouts on a ball or TRX cable better than old-fashioned weight lifting (now re-named the less intimidating “resistance training”)?
Dear friends and followers, the answers to these questions that plague you day and night, and all that you obsess about when it comes to nutrition and exercise, is this:
ACCEPTANCE is the first step.
Accept your body type.
Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph? (Look ‘em up!) Take two people of equal age, height, and frame. They may look the same, but they can have a weight differential of as much as 15 pounds. There’s more to a healthy body than an average height-weight scale that our doctors impose upon us. There’s more to you than what size shirt you wear.
Accept that permanent change happens slowly.
There are no quick fixes to re-shaping the body, especially if you want these changes to stick. Remember too, that a”diet” implies temporary. Therefore, as soon as you resume your “normal” (old habits) of eating, you will gain weight again. As for exercise, if you have or make little time for it, or just plain dislike it – no video, class, trendy running of 100 steps in Brentwood will work in the long run because you will get bored, or see so few results that you’ll give up.
So rather than obsessing, let’s accept. With that hurdle jumped, we can address those issues that we can actually do something about.
Set a realistic goal for what your body can look like.
Once you figure out what your body type really is, and how much time you can give to exercise and proper nutrition (see the points below), you can set a realistic goal – one that you can actually achieve and then feel satisfaction and accomplishment about.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. If your job or home responsibilities are too stressful, I guarantee with a little “un-panicked” soul-searching you can find a way to make even a small change that will allow you enough time to schedule regular and consistent exercise. Between the positive stress-reducing effects exercise offers, and the changes in your body that will please your head, even that small change will result in something huge.
As for financial concerns, there are very inexpensive options to exercise and nutrition that you can adopt. You don’t have to join a gym or shop at Whole Foods to make these changes.
Again – change happens slowly. So make a plan, and step by step execute it. Think of all the time you sat around wishing and obsessing instead of doing. If you start taking baby steps towards your goals – and stay focused – within a matter of months, you will be closer (or even there) to achieving what you wish for.