Fit Steps: your fitness guide
You want more—more energy, more out of life, more fun, more flexibility and stamina to do more with the kids and your friends. One of life’s most interesting twists is that more often comes from less. More energy often comes with less weight, for instance.
If you’re ready for more in the way of fitness, we have a guide to help start you on your way to being fit and trim. It offers quick but life-changing tips to keep you motivated, eating right, and exercising consistently so you stay on track.
Thanks to the trainers at PROMATx Health Club in Lexington, who helped us put this guide together. It’s not intended to make you a bodybuilder or an Olympic athlete, just a person who has the healthy lifestyle to go for all life has to offer.
Why not print this article out and hang it on your refrigerator as a reminder of the new habits you will be working on. So let’s get started…
You’ve wanted to make some changes for a long time. Here’s how to take those first steps that will lead to long-term success.
You’ve seen the sign on all the equipment and consent forms. Do what it recommends, and see your physician before starting any kind of exercise program.
•The goal line
Rather than one mega goal, set short-term and long-term goals. The long-term goal is where you want to be. The short-term goals are what will get you there. If you want to lose 40 pounds, start with a goal of losing 8 pounds this month.
Start small. Instead of vowing to totally change your eating habits, for instance, set a goal to eat something healthy every day and then build from there.
The goal is to be active every day. You don’t have to go to the gym or do something structured to accomplish this. If it’s a nice day, try doing walking lunges down the street and then sprinting back or going for a bike ride.
Instead of deciding you must exercise every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, make your goal to exercise three times a week. The flexibility will reduce the stress associated with making a change.
Get at least eight hours of sleep every night, and allow yourself one day when you don’t exercise. Also, if your muscles are really sore, don’t work them.
Stick with it
Getting started is often the easiest part of any change, while remaining committed is the hardest part. Use these tips to help you stay the course:
•Use the buddy system
Exercise with a friend. It’s a lot more fun and safer, too. Plus, people who work out with a friend are more likely to continue.
•Rise and exercise
Try jump-starting your day with exercise. You’ll feel better all day.
•Try something new
Learn a new exercise or try something new that’s active. Get online and search the names of body parts to discover new exercises. Go for the sites that are university-based and stay away from bodybuilding sites.
Take your measurements every six to eight weeks, and note your progress. It will give you added motivation to keep on keeping on.
•Mix it up
Alternate between activities. Try a mix of boxing, cycling, swimming, yoga, and Pilates, for instance.
•Don’t forget the ordinary
Add fitness to your daily life by taking the stairs, parking away from your destination, and doing simple stretches.
If you build a house, a solid foundation is essential. Otherwise, everything you build can suddenly collapse. Fitness is no different. Nutrition is the solid foundation for your health and fitness.
•Eat frequent meals
You need four to six small meals (250-400 calories) that are balanced with a protein, fat, bread/grain/cereal, fruit, and vegetable. It doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, mix yogurt, strawberries, and bran flakes or spread some peanut butter on celery. This keeps your blood sugar steady and your metabolism going. The other good news: you get to eat every 2-3 hours.
•Make your own “fast food”
Buy a personal cooler and stock up on plastic containers. Then use them to take nutritious foods with you. A well-stocked cooler for one day might include a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with some baby spinach and spicy mustard. (Eat one-half for one meal and save the other half for a few hours later.) It would also contain some veggies (try broccoli with a fat-free or low-fat sour cream dip) or anything a rabbit would enjoy. Include some fruit as well. Apples are great. All berries and melons are good. Limit bananas: they spike your blood sugar.
•Avoid peaks and valleys
Include lots of low-glycemic foods (foods that do not cause a spike in your blood sugar) such as oatmeal, brown rice, bran flakes, whole-grain bread, and sweet potatoes. For a list of foods and their glycemic rating, go to www.mendosa.com.
•Watch portion sizes
Super-sized foods make you super-sized.
Nutrition bars can be good or bad for you. Look for natural protein bars. Stay away from any bar with a sugar content of more than 12 grams.
Read the actual ingredients in a food rather than just the label. The label can sometimes be deceptive. An easy rule to remember: if you have a hard time saying it or spelling it, you shouldn’t be eating it.
•Eat the whole thing
Go for whole foods rather than processed ones.
•Join the sugar police
Your mom was right about sugar. Stay away from refined sugar (regular white sugar) and trans fats (oils that have been hydrogenated). One or both are usually in most processed foods.
•Drink plenty of water
It takes more than you think. The general recommendation is eight to 10, 8-oz glasses. To find out what you really need, multiply your body weight by .66. This gives you the number of ounces you should be drinking.
Think fun when you think exercise. That means choosing activities that suit your personality and your lifestyle. If you relish time alone and don’t get much of it, try swimming. It’s a great aerobic workout that also gives you time to quiet your mind. If you are a more social sort, join a class or organize a group of friends to walk, run, or work out together. Whatever your choice, if you have fun, you’re more likely to succeed.
Exercise Essentials for All Ages
The goal is to get your heart rate up. It will take about five to 10 minutes.
This will get your muscles ready to work. Even when you don’t exercise, you should stretch 10-15 minutes each day. The older you are, the more stretching you need to do.
Beginners should start exercising three times a week and gradually work up to five-six times a week. When you hit a plateau (stop seeing results), it is time to move to the next level.
Let your heart rate come down slowly. Never just jump off a piece of exercise equipment when your heart rate is elevated.
Your muscles will thank you by not being as sore. You’ll also gain flexibility.
Exercise for Kids
Keep them active and keep them from getting bored. Get out of the house. Go on hikes; play ball in the back yard.
•Mix it up
Organize a group of parents, and assign each a weekend. When it’s your weekend, you are responsible for coming up with an activity that the group hasn’t done before. This eliminates boredom.
•Develop a point system
Assign specific points to various activities. When kids have so many points, they get a treat, such as a movie.
•Nix the weights
Children should not be doing strength training with weights. It could affect their growth. Stick with cardio and agility activities.
•Let the games begin
Start a family game night and get everyone active. Let the kids join in the planning as well as the fun.
Exercise in Your 20s
Most 20-somethings can do anything. This is the time to build your base.
•Exercise three to six times a week
If you exercise three days each week (the minimum for basic health), you will tone your body. If you want to make changes (lose weight or increase lean muscle mass), you’ll need five or six days of exercise every week.
Do 15-20 of each exercise. Then take a one-minute rest before starting another repetition (a rep, in gym terms). Some basics include lunges, body squats, and the tried-and-proven push-ups.
Base your activities on your goal.
Exercise in Your 30s and 40s
•You’ve got a green light
As with your 20s, there still should be few limits to what you can do.
•Use more muscle
Incorporate more strength training (resistance training with weights) into your routine. Women should be doing strength training a minimum of three times a week to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Likewise for men, but they should also include cardio to keep body systems going.
•Shift your focus
You should now be thinking health and wellness rather than washboard abs.
•Build your core
Concentrate on the area from your hips to your ribcage. Don’t just do the standard crunches. Mix it up with Swiss balls and more stability exercises.
Exercise for 50+
Put more emphasis on balance and stability.
Divide your workouts between strength training and cardio. Also, alternate between upper- and lower-body workouts.
Other Exercise Tips
Begin at a low intensity. Do a little more with each workout. Increase the intensity when you hit a plateau.
•Don’t kill yourself
You don’t need to exercise for longer than one hour, including your warm-up and stretching.
•Feel no pain
Listen to your body. You should never experience pains in your joints. It is okay for muscles to “burn” after a strenuous workout.
•Try every other
Alternate intense workouts with not-so-intense ones.
NO-BAKE COOKIE BREAKFAST
1 serving chocolate protein powder
3/4 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup water
In a small bowl, microwave oatmeal, peanut butter, and water for approximately 2-3 minutes (microwaves vary). Remove and stir in protein powder. If it is too thick, add just a tiny bit of milk. Stir for chunky consistency. It’s ready to eat for a quick protein-packed breakfast.
YOUR FIRST MONTH OF WORKING OUT
|__________||Monday______||Tuesday___ ||Wednesday___||Thursday___ ||Friday______ ||Saturday___||Sunday |
|Week #1||Full Body||Walk||Full Body||Walk||Full Body||Walk||Rest|
|Week #2||Full Body||Walk||Full Body||Walk||Full Body||Walk||Rest|
|Week #3||Lower Body ||Walk||Upper Body ||Walk||Lower Body ||Walk||Rest|
|Week #4||Upper Body||Abs||Lower Body||Abs||Upper Body||Abs||Rest|
Do one to two exercises per muscle group. Start with the largest muscles and move to the smallest ones. Do fewer cardio activities on days you work your muscles, and more on the days you don’t work your muscles.
FITNESS SUCCESS STORY #1
Marianne Smith Edge, a registered dietician who travels extensively for work, chose running as her core exercise five years ago since it fit her schedule best. “Always take your shoes along and there’s no excuse,” says Smith Edge. At home in Owensboro she strength trains at HealthPark and uses the indoor track during winter.
FITNESS SUCCESS STORY #2
Jim and Faye Ausenbaugh work out three times a week at the YMCA of Scottsville-Allen County using the buddy system. Jim says, “I would have never done this by myself. Faye got me into exercising in January, and since then I have seen a big difference in my physical condition and my strength. I am sure it is a life extender.”
FITNESS SUCCESS STORY #3
Ryan Kinder, age 19, of Richmond works with trainer Frank Crabtree at PROMATx Health Club in Lexington on strength training. Kinder, who plays college baseball, says, “My goal was to gain weight and speed. I gained 15 pounds in only two months and I can run faster. We sat down in the beginning and laid out a plan, including a maintenance program.”
FITNESS SUCCESS STORY #4
Mazie Patterson has been working out at the McDowell Wellness Center at Ephraim McDowell Health in Danville since 1997. “I go in order to keep myself healthy and the low-impact and aquatic classes have made a positive difference in my balance.”
FITNESS SUCCESS STORY #5
Margot Perkins of Harrodsburg works out with small weights in a seated low-impact aerobics class at the McDowell Wellness Center at Ephraim McDowell Health in Danville. Margot’s success tip: “Keep moving. I have arthritis and this class enables me to move all my joints. Anybody can do it and being with other people also motivates me.”
WIN A FITNESS PACKAGE
What’s one fitness tip that has made you successful in your goal for a healthy lifestyle that you think would help others succeed?
Tell us your success story
We will share as many tips as we can in our January issue to encourage everyone with their New Year’s resolutions!
...and you could win!
Submit your fitness tip in 50 words or less no later than October 22. Make sure you include your name, complete address, phone number, and name of electric co-op where applicable.
Send to: Kentucky Living, Fitness Success Story, P.O. Box 32170, Louisville, KY 40232.
Or click here to register online.
Your fitness package will include a Sony Sport CD player, calorie counter/ pedometer, fitness ball, workout mat, backpack with water bottles, two fitness DVDs (Billy Banks Tae Bo and Kathy Smith power aerobics), and an exercise music CD—a $225 value from Kentucky Living.
The winner of the package will be drawn at random from all the tips published, including five others drawn at random to receive a Kentucky Living fitness t-shirt.
KEYWORD EXCLUSIVE: FITNESS WEB RESOURCES
For a listing of fitness and nutrition Web resources and how to hire a professional trainer, click here: fitness resources