Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Weight Loss and Nutrition Helps

Little Helps for Those of Us with No Self Control
Ways to Make Weight Loss Easier

            I know I’ve already posted an article very similar to this but I had to write it all out again for a friend and figured I may as well post it again because I honestly and truly believe that these ideas will help you in your weight loss goals. Repetition will help you to remember and hopefully it will help inspire you to make small lifestyle changes to keep you healthy and to help you to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

- Switch to low fat/fat free versions of anything you can:
            - fat free milk, sour cream, and cheese (fat free cheese tastes fine but it doesn’t melt well so if you’re using it on something that requires it to be melted – like pizza – go for the reduced fat version)
- Substitute the butter on your toast, potatoes, whatever you like to butter, for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. You can’t really tell the difference and it’s got barely any calories and fat at all.
- Eat frozen yogurt instead of full fat ice cream.
- Search for recipies that allow you to substitute applesauce for oil in baking (lots of breads and cakes can be adapted to use applesauce instead of oil).
- Low fat/fat free yogurt and cream cheese (cream cheese isn’t that great fat free but you can’t really taste too much of a difference with low fat versions).
- Fat free, sugar free pudding is awesome! I love it as a snack and when made with skim milk, it’s still fat free and tastes so good.
- Switch to whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals to help you feel full quicker and longer.
- Buy snacks already portioned out or portion them out as soon as you get home from the grocery store into individual serving sizes so you don’t over eat your favorite snacks. This also allows you to eat some of your favorite foods but in a more sensible way.
- Clean and prepare (chop, peel, shred, whatever you do) your produce as soon as you get home from the grocery store and  store it in the fridge in such a way that it’s easy for you to grab and eat when you’ve got the munchies. Fruits and veggies have few calories so it’s better to munch on an apple or carrots than potato chips.
- DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Drink water before every meal, drink water when you start to feel hungry (in case you’re body is confusing thirst with hunger which happens quite frequently), and sip water throughout the day. Find yourself a nice, 32oz. water bottle and shoot for 2-3 of these a day.
- Don’t store food on your table or counter tops (unless it’s fruit or veggies) and keep snacks where you can’t see them. This cuts down on cravings, grazing, and impulse eating.
- Eat breakfast: 1 cup of cereal and ½ cup of skim milk should be enough and if it isn’t, drink more water and add a piece of fruit, not more cereal.
- Plan lunch and dinner menus (this saves you money at the grocery store too!) and plan to have salads or vegetables with ever meal. Try to have more poultry than beef on your menu (though meatless nights are good too – your body doesn’t need as much meat as we tend to think it does).
- Have a list of approved snacks hanging on your fridge or pantry with snacks that you’ve okayed yourself to eat. Include next to the name of the snack the correct portion size to be eaten and how many calories and fat grams are in that particular snack. This can help you keep track of calories consumed on snacking (hint: it should not be a lot…).
- Don’t eat your kid’s leftovers. Save it for later or toss it (and don’t feel bad).
- Try to eat the least processed versions of fruits and vegetables. Lots of processed versions have added sugar or are fried.
- Keep a food journal.
- Check nutrition labels at the grocery store. Some brands have less fat and calories than another brand of the same food. Case in point: I looked at nutrition labels on my daughter’s fruit snacks because I snack on them too and I found that the ones we were eating had more fat and calories than another particular brand that had about 30 less calories and no fat.

Push Up Challenge!

     My hubby has recently decided that he wants to lose some weight. I think he looks like a stud but he was feeling a little flabby so of course I supported him in his weight loss endeavors. In the last few months he's managed to lose about 15 pounds and he's now adding push ups every day (sometimes several times a day) and has inspired me to do the same. I'm allowing myself to do "girl" push ups (on my knees) since the pregnant belly is too stretched out to hold a technically correct push up position. Anyway, he's working his way up to 100 push ups in a row and he's currently up to 70 (way to go!). I'm sadly only at 25 but hey, I just started and I'm 6 months pregnant so I say I should be cut a little slack on that one. ;) We do our push ups several times a day so that we're doing well over 100 total. It only takes a few minutes at a time which means you can do them virtually any time, any place. I'm really liking the way things are going. My husband is proud of his manly chest (though I thought it was pretty manly before) and my upper body is getting much tighter (something I appreciate since it's one of the few places of my body I still have some control over).

     I decided I wanted to issue the challenge to all of you to work up to 100 push ups in a row! Now, 100 is quite daunting, I admit. My suggestion would be to put to use some of the goal setting tips found here and make 100 push ups your long term goal and create some short term goals along the way (25, 50, 75...) that way you can feel small accomplishments throughout your long term goal.

     Push ups are an amazing exercise and here's why. Push ups work your pectoralis major (your chest) which makes you look, shall we say, perkier, your deltoids (in your shoulders), your triceps, your biceps, your abs, your lower back, various muscles within your upper back, and even your glutes (mostly when you're on your toes instead of your knees). Push ups are definitely a core exercise in addition to an awesome chest exercise which is why you'll be amazed at the toning that takes place within your body in general, not just in your pecs.

     Feel free to post comments updating us on your progress! Remember, it only takes a few minutes at a time to do a set of push ups and regularly dropping down for this exercise will give you amazing toning results in most of your upper body so what have you got to lose besides some inches? No excuses! Now drop and give me 10!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting Aquainted with Swimming Terminology and Etiquette

     I just posted some swimming workouts here and thought I'd make sure to do a little post on swimming etiquette and give a refresher on some terminology you may not be familiar with or have forgotten. This list will be added to as I see fit or as you all have questions for me. :)

     First I'll touch on etiquette. It's simple and basic and if you practice good etiquette you won't have any disgruntled swimmers following you in your lane (heck, some of those people probably need to hear this too!). One major rule is to let faster swimmers in your lane go first. I understand that this sounds insultingly obvious but you'd be surprised how often you get stuck behind slow people that won't let you pass. If you happen to be that slow person, please let faster swimmers pass! You can let them pass by finishing your lap and then stopping at the wall to let them go ahead of you. I know it may interrupt something you're working on but that's a sacrifice we have to make in sharing lanes with other people. It only takes a few seconds to let them pass so be courteous and let them go ahead. Don't ever stop in the middle of the lane to let someone pass. This is more likely to cause a crash and make them upset than it is to make them happy.

     The next rule is to circle swim. It really is as easy as it sounds. Swim in a long, stretched out circle (I guess that would be an oval haha). To circle swim, always stick to the right side of the lane, just like driving. Keep your right shoulder to the lane and viola, you're circle swimming. Circle swimming prevents head-on collisions, and keeps everyone happy because no one is guessing which side everyone else is going to swim on. In the even that you are in the lane with only one other person you can ask if they prefer to circle swim or to split the lane. Splitting the lane means you divide the lane in half lengthwise and stick to your half. Lane splitting is nice because you don't have to ever worry about passing your lane-mate because they are happily swimming on their side, and you yours. As soon as a third person joins your lane you need to switch back to circle swimming. There, etiquette is covered. Simple, right?

     The following are some terms/signs I will use when I post a workout. Use this as a guide to understanding my workouts so you're not frustrated trying to figure it out yourself. :)

- streamline position: You can figure this one out right now by standing up, extending your arms to the ceiling and placing one hand on top of the other. Lock your hands together by hooking your top thumb around your bottom hand. Squeeze your head just behind your ears with your arms and maintain a straight body alignment. your elbows should not be bent at all. This is streamline position.

- 1x00, 2x50, or any other signs like these: In a regulation lap pool one lap or length is 25 yards (some are meters but it won't matter which your pool is when trying to read my workouts). Let's look at 4x25, for example. The first number (4) indicates how many times you will swim the distance shown in the second number (25). A 25 is short for 25 yards and is 1 lap. (Some people say that a lap is down to one side and back and that a length is just down to one side. I choose to use the word lap to mean down to one side. From here on out, 1 lap means 25 yards.) 4x25 does NOT mean that you swim 25 yards 4 times in a row. If that were the case it would be written 1x100. 4x25 means that you swim 25 yards and then stop until you have done it 4 times.

- a 25 means 25 yards or 1 lap

- a 50 means 50 yards or 2 laps

- a 75 is 3 laps

- a 100 is 4 laps... and so on

- A "sprint" means as fast as you possibly can while maintaining good technique.

2 Swimming Workouts in Honor of Summer!

     With summer just about upon us (here in Vegas it seems like it's been here for a few months now haha) I thought it might be fun to throw in some great workouts to do in the pool. I decided to keep things basic since I realize that not everyone has competed and knows all of the strokes well enough to utilize them in a workout. However, if you are one who knows all of the strokes, feel free to substitute freestyle out for whatever you want to mix things up a bit. For those of you who are new to swimming and don't understand some of the terminology that I use or don't understand how to read my workouts, please click here for further explanation!
     The beautiful thing about swimming is that it is low impact and it works your entire body, head to toe. Whether you're swimming continuously or using equipment and modifications to focus on certain muscle groups, your whole body is getting a great toning workout while you're getting some intense cardio. If there's one thing I love, it's getting both the toning and the fat burning all together! Another beautiful thing about swimming is that it is the perfect exercise for pregnant women! (Which is a big deal to me right now as my belly gets more and more in the way.) Being in the water can ease a lot of the aches and pains that come with pregnancy (and for those with back and joint pain) and I find it incredibly helpful with lower back pain. My lower back is constantly painful but that pain is relieved while I swim and even helps to relive that pain for a long time after I get out.

     I've got two great workouts for you today. I'm going to keep them around 1,000 yards (including warm up and cool down) with some interval training that will give you a nice cardio boost. If you feel that you cannot complete the workout then go ahead and do what you can but don't forget to do your cool down. If you feel that you can do more, go ahead and add more of the same intervals. The second workout in this post focuses a little more on strength and will require you to get up and out of the pool regularly and for this reason I ask our pregnant readers to do this workout with caution. Use your best judgement and please don't hurt yourself. If you have stairs or a ladder close to your lane please use them to assist you in getting out of the pool. If at any time you feel weak, dizzy, or your heart rate is too high, please sit at the side of the pool and rest until you feel you can get back in (and please don't dive back in - diving is a bad idea for pregnant women :)).

Workout #1
Warm Up:
- 1x100 freestyle easy
- 2x50 kicking only (either use a kick board or hold your arms in streamline position)
Main Set:
- 1x200 freestyle, even laps moderate, odd laps faster (not a sprint)
- 4x50 first lap sprint, second lap easy - rest 1 minute in between
- 1x200 freestyle moderate
Cool Down:
- 1x100 freestyle easy (rest 1 minute)
- 2x50 freestyle easy with moderate rest in between
- stretch

Workout #2 (If possible, choose a lane at the end of the pool.)
Warm Up:
- 2x50 kicking only
- 2x100 freestyle easy to moderate
Main Set:
- 4x25 sprint freestyle
- Torture Tens
   - swim one lap across, hop out and do 10 pushups, repeat for a total of 10 laps
- Lunges
   - swim one lap across, hop out and lunge along the side of the pool 25 yards back down to where you started (you'll be making a loop, always swimming down to one side and lunging back to the other), repeat for a total of 6 laps
Cool Down:
- 1x200 freestyle easy
- stretch

* Something I find helpful in my workouts is to write/print out the workout and stick it in a plastic sandwich baggie so that you can have your workout at the side of the pool and it won't matter if it gets wet. Just remember to take it with you when you leave so you don't litter!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Exercise Alone is Not Enough

     The inspiration from this post comes from the incredible number of times in the past month or so that I've heard people say "All I want to do is exercise and then eat whatever I want." Well, to all those of you who have ever said this (I include my past self in this category) this one is for you! (To those of you who think I may have heard this from you in the last month or so, thanks for inspiring the post and I hope you enjoy this. :))

     The unfortunate truth is that as we age so does our metabolism and sometimes our metabolism does not age well. Those of us who have had children are quickly finding that out and it is a rude awakening. And so unfair. :) In high school and maybe even in college we could eat whatever we wanted, exercise a little, and stay nice and trim. Not so much anymore, am I right? I found this out the hard way (the very hard way) after a high school athletic career and a college major that allowed me to play sports most, if not all days of the week for several hours at a time. I could eat whatever I wanted and it made no difference! I loved it! And then I had a miracle come into my life weighing in at a mere 7lbs 4oz. I, on the other hand, was weighing in at well over 200lbs (prior to my pregnancy I was about 158). No big deal, I though. I'm still in school which means sports every day, this will come off in no time. A year and a half later I weighed 215lbs and I was miserable. I'd never been so overweight in my life and I could not handle it. I was so depressed. I was convinced that it had nothing to do with my diet because this is the way I always ate and I never was fat before! I didn't eat unhealthy foods, I just ate a lot of food.

     I tried everything. I kicked my exercise routine into high gear, doing intense cardio workouts for about an hour every morning while my daughter was still asleep. Nothing. I threw in a weight training routine. Nothing. I switched to fat free or reduced fat foods (while still eating the same amount). Nothing. What in the world was I suppose to do? Well, I opted for a complete lifestyle change and and tried *gasp* portion control. Yes. I finally came to see that it was my diet. And you know what, eating less caused me to drop over 30lbs in about four months. Most weeks I lost about 2lbs a week, some weeks were 5 o 6 lbs. Honestly it felt like instant weight loss. I ate the same things I'd always eaten (remember, I didn't eat tons of junk food, just a lot of food in general) but I reduced the amount of food I ate and viola! Say goodbye to 30lbs!

     It took me a year and a half to recognize that my workouts were not enough by themselves. Did I stay strong? Yes. Was I in great shape despite my extra fat? Yes. Could I leap tall buildings in a single bound? I sure felt like it. But nothing I was doing was enough to get rid of that extra fat my body had stored until I changed what I was putting into my body.

     That being said, you can refer to all of my previous posts on nutrition and weight loss to help you figure out how to do this. As I mentioned above, I had to make the decision to make a lifestyle change. Diets don't work and the reason they don't work is because you treat it like a temporary fix to help you lose a few pounds and then you go right back into your old habits. You have to make a lifestyle change. If you're not ready to make that change now, maybe 20lbs from now you'll believe me and you'll be ready.

     Dieting usually involves depriving yourself of foods you like (because let's face it, most of our favorite foods are high fat and high calorie) and forcing you to eat foods you don't like (brussel sprouts for dinner? Yuck!). When you make a lifestyle change your finding the right balance of foods to eat that help you stay healthy and help you lose or maintain your weight. Do I still have ice cream? Sure do, but not always and I measure it out now. Do I make cookies still? You bet, but I portion them out. I still enjoy my favorite foods and I even have pizza for dinner a few times a month but I always, always use portion control and I cut out fat wherever possible. It's a lot easier than you think once you get the hang of it. It's become such second nature to me that I don't even think about what I'm going to eat or how I can squeeze in more fruits and veggies because it's just what I do. It's a part of my routine and it's easy now.

     My inbox is always open to you, so email me at sarabsorensen@gmail.com if you have questions about how to fit in healthier foods to your routine and help you make the lifestyle change that you need to get yourself into a healthy weight zone, stay there, and be happy about the way you eat.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quicky Workouts to Help Maintain Current Strength

      Oh. My. Gosh. Has it really been over a month since my last post? My sincere apologies! April was a whirlwind of quick family trips, stomach flues, colds, and the best news yet: our 18 week ultrasound that showed our little jellybean proudly displaying that yes he is a boy! Now with only 19 weeks left to go I'm feeling those wonderful baby kicks and loving every minute of it. I could do without the constant stretching feeling, the headaches, dizziness, and the occasional nausea but oh how I love those baby kicks! Just a few short weeks after finding out we were expecting a baby boy my baby girl turned 2! With my husband at the peak of finals this last week her celebrations were spread out a little and I feel like we're just starting to recover from the go-go-go of April and May.

     With all of the insanity and time constraints I've had to endure the past month and a half I thought I'd share my workout routine that I've managed to squeeze in. I tried to come up with something that would allow me to get a lot out of a half hour since that's basically all I had to devote to my workouts in the mornings before my little girl would wake up. These workouts are not intended to provide you with amazing fat burning and muscle toning results. I know that sounds weird, like it's not doing anything for you, but these workouts are intended to help you maintain regular exercise and to help prevent any loss in strength due to even temporary quitting of your normal routine (so yes, it's definitely doing something for you). So, before you jump into these workouts remember, this is for that tough spot in life where you can't fit much in and all you can do is maintain. Got it?

     The first 20 minutes of my routine are devoted to a warm up and a cardio activity. I can't leave the house since my husband is not home and my daughter is still sleeping so I pop in aerobics videos that I can do in about 20 minutes. It is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, most days of the week. Keep in mind that it's 30 minutes of exercise, not 30 minutes of cardio, so just because you did 20 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of another activity doesn't mean you cheated yourself by not doing cardio the full 30 minutes. It's all exercise and it's all good.

     After my 20 minute warm up/cardio routine I have a really quick circuit I complete that uses just a few exercises for every major muscle group. This helps me to maintain the current strength I have in all parts of my body and prevents me from neglecting any one group. It is best to work through each exercise with no rest in between - this keeps your heart rate up and also moves you through the workout quicker. Remember, these workouts are to help you maintain your current strength and fitness level so it doesn't take much to stimulate that muscle to maintain. I have an upper body routine and a lower body routine and I alternated days. The first week I'll do upper body on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then I'll do my lower body routine on Tuesday and Thursday. The second week will be opposite; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will be lower body, and Tuesday, Thursday will be upper body.

Here's the upper body routine:
   -Shoulder Press (12 reps)
   -Bicep Curl (10 reps immediately followed by 10 pulses halfway through the movement)
   -Reverse Bicep Curl (10 reps immediately followed by 10 pulses halfway through the movement)
   -External Rotation (12 reps) Hold weights, palms up, with arms at a 90 degree angle in front (you'll look like you're halfway through a bicep curl). Maintaining that angle, externally rotate the shoulder (hold elbows tight to your body and rotate the weights out to the sides and then back in.)
   -Bent Over Row (12 reps)
   -Push Ups (12+ reps)
   -Hold Plank Position for 30 sec to a minute 

And the lower body routine:
   -Lateral Band Walk (12 steps each direction) Tie an exercise band tight around your knees. Side step to your left for 12 steps and then to your right 12 steps.
   -Weighted Lunges (10 reps per leg)
   -Weighted Squats (15 reps)
   -Weighted Calf Raises (20 reps)
   -Straight-Leg Deadlift (12 reps)
   -Banded Left Lifts (12 reps each side) Tie an exercise band tightly around your knees before performing leg lifts. Do without the band if it is too difficult.

     I know this wasn't much of a post after being gone for a little over a month but my husband has this week off which means I've got some time to catch up on everything I've been slacking on for the last little while so expect some more exciting posts this week!