Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Well, it’s almost February.  How many of you are sticking with your goals for 2013?  I hope you are!  I’m guessing many of you have hit the gym with high hopes of toning up or dropping a few pounds.  Maybe you’ve noticed that there have been other changes as well.  Regular exercise has many benefits, some of which happen sooner than others.  Here’s a quick rundown:

1)      Increased energy.  I know this seems counterproductive, but it rings true for many people.  Ever notice that when you exercise and then don’t for awhile, you get sluggish and feel like you don’t have any energy, much less for a workout?  Regular exercise can make you more alert and energetic, helping you with daily tasks as well as fitness goals.  This is one of the first changes my clients notice when they start a regular exercise program.  Fight that tiredness and keep up your workouts, you know you will feel better afterwards. 
2)      Better sleep. Yep, that’s right.  Your body shuts down more efficiently when it’s time for bed.  People tend to sleep sounder and get a higher quality of sleep with regular exercise.

3)      Stress reduction.  People deal with stress in many different ways. It can be comfort foods (not advisable on a regular basis if you are watching your waist line), general venting to a friend or family member, while some use happy hour (another waist line killer).  Exercise provides an outlet for stress that is healthy for you, whether it’s a kickboxing session or a long hike after work.  Those endorphins kick in and people tend to feel less stressed after a sweat session.  It’s kind of the same effect as with increased energy, with an added bonus result.

4)      Better eating.  This might just be me and people I know, but I’ve personally noticed that my body craves better food when I hit the gym regularly.  The opposite is true as well; if I have to take some time off due to an illness or a funky schedule, my cravings change to not so great foods.  Exercise and healthy eating have a positive relationship, one is better with the other.

5)      Increased metabolism.  When you do strength training and work those muscles, you are creating a larger fat burning production in your body.  I won’t bore you with the details (it happens at a cellular level) but I can tell you that the more muscle you have, the more efficient your metabolism.  You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to have this effect; regular strength training does the trick.

Regular exercise is simply awesome for your body, in whatever form is right for you.  If you happen to reach your fitness goals along the way, it’s a huge bonus.  So get out there and stick to your routine…you’ll sleep better for it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tools to Help With Weight Loss

Happy New Year everyone!!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are back in the swing of things, and that health and fitness is a part of that “normal.”  As you navigate the busy gym and count your calories, I thought I would share some of the tools I use to help me stay on track year round:

1)  iPhone apps:  I currently use two (free!) apps frequently – MyFitnessPal and Fooducate.  The first is a calorie counter where I log my food and track my time at the gym.  It helps to hold me accountable for what I eat.  The second is a rating system where you scan the barcode of a food and it gives the food a letter grade.  It also includes information for the food that makes it “good” or “not so good.”
2)  Heart Rate Monitor: This helps me determine how hard I am actually working and if I need to step up or scale back my effort.  It’s huge for cardio, and is interesting during strength training…turns out your heart rate can be in the fat burning zone even lifting weights.
3)Foam Roller: This is new in my routine and now I can’t imagine life without it.  It’s used to loosen tight muscles that you may not even know existed, and is a great reminder to stretch.  I’ve been notorious for not including stretching in my workout routine and this makes me slow down and ensure proper stretching is done.  Besides that, it just plain feels good.
4) Change: Change is good, and fitness is no exception.  Every few months I change my workout routine.  It might be when I do my strength training (before or after cardio), indoors versus outdoors, intervals or circuit training.  When the body gets bored, it ceases to work as hard and this is where people get stuck on scale and strength plateaus.
5)  My Clients: Yes, I know this one sounds strange.  I coach my clients to work out regularly and eat healthy, and I need to lead by example.  Clients hold me accountable that I do what I ask them to do.  I thoroughly enjoy watching my clients achieve and exceed their fitness goals and the impact that has on the other facets of their lives, and expect no different for myself.

All right, now get out there and get healthy!