Category Archives: Fitness
We all know that a healthy, attractive appearance boosts your mood and your attitude towards life, and yet many of us still muddle through life looking less than our best. Why? Well, there’s a myriad of reasons why, but most of them go back to one thing–it’s easier to complain and maintain the status quo than it is to change. Change is hard work, and the things we have to do to bring about change are hard work, too. However, if we truly want to look our best, be our best, we’ve got to suck it up, put on our big girl pants and just do it. If you’re not happy about facing another summer looking less than what you consider your ideal best, here are some ideas for motivation and inspiration.
- Eating habits – There are all kinds of diets out there–shakes, meal replacements, point counting, processed meals delivered to your door–but the thing is, most of them simply don’t work. Why? Well, when you go back to eating normally, you usually end up gaining back all the weight you lost, if not more. What you need to do is change your eating habits. Establish new ones that will last for the rest of your life. Try going vegetarian, Paleo, Primal, or whatever appeals to you and works to help you lose the weight you want. Changing your eating habits for the better works as well as liposuction lasers, I can assure you.
- Exercise habits – Again, you have a ton of options to choose from. You just have to make a choice, and you need to do it sensibly. You can’t go from couch to marathon runner in a week, or you’ll need more than a massage therapist’s percussor tool to work out the muscle aches and pains. Choose something you enjoy or have always wanted to try. Start slow, a couple times a week, and work your way up. Hiring a personal trainer to come to your home is always a good idea if you have no idea of where to start.
- Bad habits – Smoke? Drink? Chew tobacco? Tanning booths? Chocoholic? Whatever your bad health habits, choose one and tackle it. Fighting an addiction can be difficult, but your body will thank you later. The sooner you start, the better. Smoking ages your skin, especially on your face. Quitting can save you trips to the cosmetologists medical laser later, when the damage is too great to reverse.
- Stress habits – Stress takes its toll on your entire body. Stressed people don’t smile. They don’t sleep. They don’t eat properly. Most don’t exercise, either. Cutting out stress may not be an option, especially if your lifestyle or job is part of the cause, but there are ways to beat the stress habits. Exercise. Meditate. Take up yoga. Get involved in a religious community. Discover a new, rewarding hobby. Beating your stress habits can do wonders for you!
Only you can decide what you need to do to look and feel better. The first step is deciding what to do. The next step is doing it. So, whatcha gonna do now?
In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we thought we’d do a few articles honoring the ladies of the club. This one happens to focus in the achievements of the Victorian ladies in the area of sports and recreation. Without those great grandmothers of ours demanding equal opportunities for just a much fun and fitness as the men, we’d probably still be restricted to taking “brisk walks.”
The Victorians benefited greatly from the innovations of the Industrial Age, among these perhaps the most “modern” was the idea of time for pure recreation–free time for sports and games. In times past, only on feast or festival days did the average folk have time to rest from their work. And even then, many a woman found her work load added to by preparing the home, the family’s wardrobe, and the feast for the special day.
By the middle of the 19th century, however, many a middle-class lady found herself with a bit of time each day with little to do. However, since idleness was considered a sin, and fitness and health next to Godliness, she was expected to fill even that bit of time with something active and “good for her.” And thus was the beginning of true sport and fitness activities for women.
- Lawn tennis – Lawn tennis made its first appearance in the middle of the 1800s. At first it was a gentle game consisting of simply patting the ball back and forth between 2 or 4 ladies on the grass. By 1874, however, men had discovered the sport as a way of gaining excellent physical and mental exercise. Rules were formalized and leagues were formed. Tennis skirts for the ladies were still ankle length in those days, and her corset was still firmly in place. Tennis clothes for men were nothing as they are now, either–full trousers and long-sleeved shirts, sometimes even sporting his waistcoat while playing. While you and your gals won’t want to drag out your floor length dresses and corsets, you can put on your very 2000s sports apparel and enjoy a game or two on the court. Or try it as the Victorians played it–on a grassy lawn or well-kept field.
- Bicycling – The first bicycles of the 1880s were funny-looking contraptions with a great high wheel in front and a smaller wheel in back. It was considered inconceivable for ladies to ride these, as the high wheel was almost impossible to maneuver in their long skirts. Tricycles were invented for the “fairer sex” so that their morals and reputations weren’t compromised by having to raise their skirts. However, by 1889, so many women were raising their skirts and giving the two wheeled version a try anyway that bicycle manufacturers created the bicycles we know today, with two wheels of equal size, to preserve the ladies’ dignity and good names. OK, maybe they upgraded the bicycle design more for safety reasons–either way, ladies were riding them and that’s what counts!
- Roller skating – Ice skates had been around for centuries, but roller skates had to wait for the innovations of the Industrial Age to make their appearance. Roller skates made their first appearance in 1863, and by 1870 were hugely popular in New York City. So trendy was the past time that fashion gave way and “skating skirts” that allowed for greater movement and freedom of the wearer were introduced. Roller skating’s popularity among men and women of all classes by the 1890s led to changes in standards for ladies’ clothing and behaviors. Skating rinks held dances that allowed young men and women to socialize, dress, and behave in ways not previously considered “proper.”
May will soon be here and that means that Mother’s Day is right around the corner. And since we here at Love 2 B Healthy 1) are moms, 2) have moms, and 3) tend to promote only healthy, good-for-you gift ideas, we thought you might want or need some of those ideas for providing your dear old Mom with a Mother’s Day gift fit for the queen she is.
- Be a joiner! Get mom a membership to a gym, or to a fitness center, or to an exercise program she’s expressed interest in. If your mother is older, check into discounts and programs for seniors in your area. If she’s the younger, healthier, more adventurous type, maybe sign her up for a new class–yoga, zumba, Pilates, ball room dancing. Sign yourself up as well, to make it a family affair.
- Be a loser! If mom has expressed a desire or a need to lose some weight, help her out by suggesting a diet or weight loss program for both of you (or for mom and a friend). Studies show that losing weight is easier and more effective when there is plenty of moral support and family involvement. You’ll both benefit. And if mom is already on a program or eating plan, don’t sabotage it by getting her some big box of candy or taking her to a restaurant not known for its healthy menu choices, please.
- Be a quitter! Got a habit that mom has hated for years? Stop it! Quit chewing tobacco, or stop smoking. End the over eating. Quit the late night booze binging. No, it’s not going to be easy. There are lots of informative and helpful articles, websites and programs to help you and to teach you, whether you want to stop your impulse buying or need to know how to quit chewing tobacco. Don’t let smokeless tobacco or any other bad habit stand in the way of your relationship with your one and only mother. Step up and make a change you’ll both be happy with!
- Be healthy! Does mom love to garden? Buy her some new tools or plants. Does she love to cook? Gift her with some healthy recipes or cookbooks. Is your mother the traveling kind? Invest in a book or two of information on spas and health resorts that indulge the visitor in healthy, relaxing experiences. (Or go whole hog and book mom an all-expense paid trip to one!) Does mom have a lot of stress and tension in her life–work, kids, family always causing problems? Try a trip for two to a massage therapist. Or purchase the supplies for an at-home aromatherapy session.
Whatever you do for your mom this year, keep both her health and yours in mind when making the decision. Flowers and candy and dinner out may be traditional, but you can make better, healthier choices. And everyone can be sure to have had a happy Mother’s Day!
(PS: You may want to get mom’s input before you decide on a gym membership or diet program. Better to be sure it’s what she wants rather than waste time and money on something she won’t enjoy or has no interest in. After all, health food doesn’t do anyone any good sitting on the shelf. Same thing goes for unused gym memberships and weight loss programs that aren’t followed.)
Stress seems to be an inevitable part of modern-day life. It’s as if everybody has to be so “on” all the time–we never get the chance to unwind or relax. And then there’s this disturbing trend in society where everyone is so easily offended. We seem to spend half our time peeved at someone or something, and the other half trying not to get on anyone else’s nerves. It leaves us with a great deal of physical and mental stress with no outlet for relief. Sometimes all this stress causes us to indulge in more couch time and extra comfort food, which is alright once in a while, but shouldn’t be a way to deal with stress regularly. Instead, use exercise to burn off some steam. Here’s why it works:
- It’s all in your mind. Ever wonder why every certified personal trainer seems so upbeat and happy? Regular physical exercise has been proven to relieve stress. The reasons for this involve some serious body chemistry. Exercise releases endorphins–neurotransmitters that increase your feelings of well-being and happiness. Just like the “runner’s high” you’ve heard of, exercise gives your mood and your body a boost. But you don’t need to run to feel it–any exercise that gets your heart rate up will do.
- Redirected focus. There’s a certain single-mindedness that is required for most physical activities, whether it’s maintaining your balance while going for that volleyball, or keeping your breathing even and smooth during a Pilates session. The mental concentration required for exercise can help you forget the boss, or the books, or the bills. The more you engage in this mental escape via physical exercise, the less your troubles will seem to plague you.
- Health from the inside out. Anyone with sports trainer certification will tell you that staying active isn’t just about being in shape and looking healthy on the outside. Regular exercise has a way of increasing your self-esteem as you achieve weight loss, gain strength, or just push yourself harder and farther than you’ve ever gone. This picks up your mood, and changes your inner attitude. These internal changes can help you feel more confident to face challenges at work or in your family life, or in other areas where you are experiencing stress and feeling overwhelmed.
- Sweet dreams. The physical exertion from exercise causes you to sleep better at night. Since stress often disrupts our sleep habits, having a good night’s sleep can bring about wonders. Better rest helps you to be better prepared physically and mentally to handle whatever the day can throw at you.
- Social encouragement. When exercise is a shared experience among friends or even strangers, you’re getting double the benefits to your health. It’s fine to exercise alone, but if you share your exercise with others, you get much-needed social interaction, encouragement, and one-on-one assistance from someone with group fitness certification. So you get your exercise, someone to make sure you’re doing it right, and a group of people to support one another. Group fitness makes exercise something to look forward to rather than something to dread.
Remember, exercise is something that should be life long, so it’s of extreme importance to do something you enjoy and can commit to. Even a nice long walk with the dog every morning and/or evening is a great way to clear your mind, get your heart pumping, and help out Fido’s health as well. When the going gets tough, the tough get exercising. Try it–you’ll see!
We spout off a lot about the healthy, active lifestyle here on the blog. And we often suggest activities that require a good bit of strength and agility, and well, ability, to perform or practice. And we realize that not all of us are as healthy and fit as the rest of us. Heck, we aren’t even as healthy and fit as we could be! So, to better serve those of you who either aren’t, or can’t be, as active and able as you’d like to be, we thought we’d devote a post to some healthy activities that are less, well, strenuous and more low impact than many of the ones we’ve previously discussed.
- Swimming: From New York to San Diego, pool construction and purchases are actually on the rise, despite the economy. We’d like to believe it has to do with more and more families wanting to turn their back yards into outdoor entertainment centers and places to spend quality time together. But all those back garden swimming holes also offer a way for family members to engage in low-impact and very effective, exercise. From the oldest to the youngest, every family member can enjoy the benefits of a good session in the water. Swimming works nearly every muscle group in the body, as well as giving the heart and lungs a good workout. Can’t swim? Burn calories and build muscles by simply walking through it.
- Gardening and landscaping: Another trend growing (no pun intended) from New York to San Diego, landscape design and gardening are hot topics. Whether you decide to go for yummy fruits and vegetables instead of a luscious lawn, or plant a landscape to appeal to your feathered and four-legged friends, it seems that no one is satisfied with a few flowers or hedges anymore. And that’s a good thing, actually. Gardening offers a host of low-impact activities, from pulling weeds to trimming hedges and trees to planning and planting, there are many non-strenuous ways to enjoy your garden. Gardening can also be a creative and relaxing way to relieve mental stress. Research says that creative outlets can help ease our troubled minds quicker than meditation or massage. Gardening is also something that can be adapted to the mobility-limited, through the use of raised beds and planters. So, don’t let your lack of ability stop you from growing a green thumb!
- Yoga: Yoga can do wonders for your health, both mental and physical. The low-impact stretches and poses can help you lose weight, tighten and tone muscles, and improve your aerobic health, all while mostly staying in one spot. Yoga’s meditative qualities can also help lower stress and ease tension, as your quiet time calms and soothes frayed nerves and frazzled mind.
Exercise needn’t require a great deal of strain or pain. In fact, it shouldn’t. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, aren’t ready for more strenuous exercise just yet, or have reached the point where strenuous is no longer possible, there are still opportunities to work your body, and your mind, to better health!
Fellas, listen up and listen good. What I’ve got to say is important. And not to just for physical health, but also for the ladies out there who care for your sorry selves. Or perhaps I should say that it’ll be good for your mental health, because it would ease her mind and maybe stop her worrying or nagging at you. And definitely improve your quality of life in the process. Here’s a few tips to lead in that direction. And remember, I said these were important:
- Put down the burger and fries! For crying out loud, man, eat a salad once in a while! If you’re afraid of having your man card revoked, maybe you should consider trying a Paleo-inspired diet of lean meat, veggies, and fruits. It’s based on the stuff cavemen ate, for Pete’s sake. I’d think that would be manly enough for any modern Mike. In any respect, changing your diet and trying something a bit healthier than the greasy, salty, fatty take-away and delivery you’re currently subsisting on would make great strides in your healthy endeavors.
- Put down the tobacco! Quit chewing tobacco. Quit smoking. Quit it, NOW! There are all kinds of articles and support groups that can teach you how to quit chewing tobacco or smoking. We’ve got a few of them here on the blog, and there are a ton of others. Switch to non-tobacco snuff, if you must, but get that nasty nicotine out of your life, dude! Your lady and your lungs will both thank you.
- Put down the remote! Get off your lazy, lousy butt and get some exercise. And no, you don’t have to join a gym or turn into a Mr. Goodbody, either. Just increase your daily movement. Go jogging, Take the dog for a walk. Adopt a dog to take for a walk. Take your lady for a walk. Go hiking, bike riding, anything. Just get off the couch, turn off the computer or TV and move, man! And yes, bowling counts as an activity, if done often enough and without benefit of the beer.
- Put down the beer! Or at least the six pack of it. And the whiskey, the vodka, and the rum, too. Drinking in moderation is all right, but the key is moderation. So, have a drink or two every now and then, but give up your favorite stool at the end of the bar for the sake of your health, your liver, your love life, and your waistline.
- Pick up some healthy habits. Exercising, eating right, meditation to relieve stress, or a new hobby to keep you away from TV, cigarettes, and alcohol–they’ll more than pay for themselves in the long run. And your lady love will love you all the more for it. And while you’re at it, pick up your socks, and take out the trash, and tell your ex-girlfriend to stop calling, mow the grass, and… hey I said she’d stop nagging. I didn’t say anything about those of us here at the blog!
For many, the six pack is the ideal, a symbol of health, fitness, and good looks, and so you find yourself doing crunches, sit-ups, and other abdominal exercises daily, hoping to strengthen your core and attain washboard abs.
While it’s not entirely wrong to work out any part of your body daily, working on your abs every day is not the best idea. Here’s why.
1. Abdominal exercises don’t burn stomach fat.
A prevailing myth in the world of fitness states that you can burn body fat from one specific part of your body, but you’ll learn through the process of attaining your group exercise certification that spot reduction isn’t how your body uses fat. The fact is that everyone has abdominal muscles. They may just be hidden under layers of fat. Doing crunches will certainly work those muscles out, but you won’t see them until your body reaches a low body fat percentage.
Abs are made in the kitchen. If you want a six pack, your time is better spent planning and preparing your meals and working on cardio exercises.
2. Frequent ab workouts create posture problems.
If you work at a desk, your shoulders naturally rotate forward, causing you to hunch over, which then carries over to when you’re not at your desk. An individual with a group fitness instructor certification will inform you that doing abdominal workouts every day only exacerbates the problem as your stomach muscles tighten and shorten. Do some stretches to improve your posture instead of aiming for daily sit-ups.
3. Working on your abs every day is inefficient.
Up to 20 minutes a day doing ab exercises would be better spent running, stretching, doing high-intensity interval training, lifting weights, and doing essentially any other activity. You’ll feel and look much better for it. Your abs are a complex web of muscles that don’t show noticeable results as easily as most other parts of your body.
An instructor with a sports conditioning certification will recommend including intense ab exercises to your circuit training two to three times a week. You’ll actually see better results without wasting time.
4. Frequent abdominal workouts lead to muscle imbalances.
Your abs consist of the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, and internal and external obliques. Doing crunches every day will train your rectus abdominus (the six pack muscle), but that leaves the rest of your stomach muscles untrained. Doing hundreds of crunches a day doesn’t equate to strong abs or a stable core. On the contrary, having a strong rectus abdominus while the rest of your abdominal muscles are faltering makes you more susceptible to injury.
You don’t need to do millions of crunches a day to get flat stomach. Concentrate on a clean diet and intense, all-around exercises and your abs should follow suit.
You’ve had your new baby or are expecting, and you’re worried about the extra pounds that didn’t come off with the delivery room’s rapid weight loss program. You know, the one called “giving birth.” There are many ways that you can safely, easily, and enjoyably regain your pre-pregnancy weight, if not your old figure–let’s face it, some things are gone forever, especially when pregnancy and delivery create body shape changes–that don’t involve liposuction, surgical lasers, cold laser therapy, or an expensive trip to the cosmetologist’s cosmetic laser. Yes, we know those are quicker and easier, but let’s try something a bit more natural first, shall we?
- Stroller workouts – Seems like hardly an issue of a “new mother magazine” goes to print without the inclusion of some sort of walking workout, and for good reason. Both mama and baby can benefit from walking workouts. Grab the stroller and the sunscreen and head out for a few trips around the block or park. If your stroller has a package pouch or shelf, you can combine exercise, shopping, and time with baby all in one. You can start off slow and then gradually quicken your pace. If you can, push your stroller with one arm so the other can add some upper body work. Switch arms for the next lap. Try squatting behind the stroller while pushing it away from you, then standing up while pulling it back to you. This is a great way to tone and trim while baby enjoys the rocking and rolling sensation.
- Head to the pool – Swimming is a great way to ease back into shape after your baby is born. Swimming is easy on joints that have been effected by relaxin, the hormone responsible for relaxing the pelvis to allow for the baby to pass through. Swimming is also great for strengthening core and back muscles and is easy on your overworked pelvic floor. Give grandma or dad time with baby while you get in some swim time. You’ll be back in shape in no time!
- Become a yogi – Yoga before and after birth is another excellent way to get back in shape, and there are some workouts that you can do with your baby so don’t think of your exercise time as time away from your little one. The gentle, soothing stretches of yoga poses help relieve tired, overworked muscles. Yoga also helps strengthen and tone core and back muscles, and since yoga offers an opportunity to focus on you and your inner being, it can serve as a nice diversion from the demands of being a new mom.
A couple of words of advice before you begin:
- Don’t do anything without your doctor’s approval. Your baby needs you whole and healthy. Don’t do anything that might jeopardize your ability to care for her.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, especially if you are nursing, but even if you aren’t, drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise is vital.
- Start slow. You didn’t put that baby weight on all in one day or even in one week. You aren’t going to take it off in a day or a week either. Have some compassion for yourself. Give yourself plenty of time and mercy. Even if this is baby number 12, it’s a whole new body than the one you had before you got pregnant. Get used to the new you and what she can do. Don’t push too hard or too soon. This isn’t the birthing room, after all!
What do you think of when you think of the Old West and her cowboys? Do images of soft, flabby, lazy guys come to mind? Probably not. No, our cowboys and cowgirls were rugged, fit, and healthy. It wasn’t just Cookie’s steady diet of beans and corn bread that kept them that way. Nor was it their days and weeks spent in the wide open spaces of the plains. A great deal of it had to do with their trusty four-footed mounts. Yep. The American cowboy owed a great deal of his healthy physique to his horse.
You, too, can get great fitness benefits from horseback riding. From increased physical activity to stress relief, your equestrian endeavors can be a boon to your health. Let’s look at some of them:
- Stress relief – Winston Churchill once said that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man. He wasn’t wrong. Whether it’s the pure joy experienced while riding a new trail, or the freedom of a horse and rider at full gallop, or the mental effort involved in training and teaching your pony a new dressage routine, or the simple act of having to care for and think about some living creature other than yourself, horseback riding can do great things to relive your stress levels.
- Improved activity levels – Getting up and out of the house. Saddling and bridling your horse. Brushing and grooming your pony. Riding post at the trot, guiding with the reins, mounting and dismounting. There is such a thing as “saddle sore” and after your first few sessions, you’ll realize that you are using muscles that just aren’t used in everyday walking about. Horseback riding offers quite a few opportunities for increasing your activity levels, and your physical fitness in the process.
A good horse, however, isn’t as easy to acquire as a new yoga mat or bicycle. You may not have the land or the money for a stable. Buying a horse for sale is an iffy proposition for the inexperienced buyer. (Think about it–there’s nothing good associated with the phrase “horse trader” now is there?) Good dressage ponies for sale cost a pretty penny, so you’d better have money for stabling, feed, AND the pony, as well as tack and other gear. (We’re not talking a hamster you’re adding to the family pet roster.)
And even when you find a good horse somewhere, you may have more expense and hassle getting it home. Horses for sale in California, for example, may need certification from vets both there and in your home state, not to mention transportation and possible boarding or “quarantine” costs before they can spend a single night in your barn. While you may harbor dreams of riding the range like the cowboys of old, consider wisely before making a purchase of your faithful steed. A riding stable may offer a better solution. Either way, saddle up and settle in. Fitness and stress relief are just a trail ride away!
You’ve probably never heard of Carol M. White. I know I haven’t. And I can’t seem to find any information on who or what she was. But I’ll bet you you have heard of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program. No? Well, all right maybe not the program itself, but I probably wouldn’t be too far wrong to say that you, your community, and/or your local school have been affected by the program’s existence.
The Carol M. White Physical Education Program is funded by the United States Department of Education. It is a physical education grants program designed to allow schools and community based organizations to increase, develop, or improve physical education programs. This can be done in any number of ways–teaching and training, new equipment and facilities, or new programs and opportunities. Someone at the school, school board, or community-based organization applies for the grant, showing a need and a solution to that need that can only be met through the reception of grant money. The U.S. Department of Education reviews applications and awards grants based on the severity of the need. New priorities have also brought new criteria, giving schools and organizations with lower-scoring students and lower income students a higher priority when it comes to receiving the Carol M. White Physical Education Program money.
What can be done with these PEP grants? How can it best be used to serve the schools and community organizations, and their members? let’s look at some things that have been done in schools and communities since 2001, when the PEP grant first came into being.
- Inservice training for teachers and coaches and others involved in school PE programs. Across the nation, teachers and coaches are using PEP grant money to improve their abilities to teach and coach their students. There are even companies that now specialize in this type of training, to ensure that what is being taught is up to date, appropriate for the students involved, and motivating and interesting for them, as well.
- Nutrition programs and curriculum. PEP grants aren’t just limited to getting the body moving, or to fitness goals. Nutrition is a major factor in fitness levels, and the Carol M. White PE Program recognizes this by granting money for teacher training, curriculum materials for the classroom, and for school-wide programs encouraging better eating and healthier food choices.
- New PE equipment and facilities. PEP grants are being used to install climbing walls into middle schools, improve playground equipment in elementary schools and community centers, and provide new sports equipment to inner city youth programs. One of the program’s goals is to expand the opportunities for fitness activities to every child in the community, not just a select few.
Since 2001, over $750 million have been distributed by the Carol M. White Physical Education Program to schools and community organizations all across the country. That’s why I say while you may not know who Carol M. White is, or what the program does, you’ve probably seen it in action somewhere in your school or community. Just ask the kids what they’ve been up to in gym class or on the playground!