Archive for April, 2010

Why are you exercising?

There is so much advice out there about exercise.  It can be difficult to sort through it and makes sense of what you need to do to meet your goals.

First, you need to have goals.

Do you want to be healthy?  What does “healthy” mean to you?  Do you want to lose weight?  How much?  Why?

Once you know the direction you want to go, then it’s easier to figure out what to do.

Upon reading a short piece about what “counts” as exercise, a friend quipped once that she didn’t see how she was going to lose weight by gardening.  (Gardening is frequently listed as an activity that you can do to get your daily 30 minutes of exercise.)

Well, no.  Gardening probably isn’t going to melt your pounds off.

There is exercise for health and there is exercise for fitness. 

Going for a walk, gardening, and cleaning the house are all examples of things you can do to exercise for health.  These are things that stop us from being sedentary and help with general health and well-being.

If your goal is to run a marathon (or a 5K), or to be a body builder, vacuuming isn’t the way to get it done.  These are fitness goals and require more specific training.

So, you see, you need to know what you want before you can know how to go after it.  (This, of course, is applicable in all aspects of life.)


eating out

So you’re going out to dinner with friends and you don’t want to gain two pounds doing it.  How?

The best way:

Decide ahead of time where you’re going.  If you have influence over this, choose a restaurant that has nutrition information on its website.

Go to the website before you leave.  Look at the menu, check out the nutrition info for some of the dishes you might like to have.  Combine appeal and calories, decide what you’re going to have, and when you get there, follow through.

Not all restaurants have this information available, but many do.

Why is this the best way?  Because you know what you’re getting and don’t have to guess.  We’re generally bad guessers.

Can’t plan it out ahead of time?  Here are some pointers.

  1. Skip the bread, chips, or whatever else is on the table when you sit down.  Can’t resist it if it’s on the table?  Ask the server to take it away.
  2. Don’t order an appetizer.  Taking a peek at Applebee’s menu (for example), there are 30 appetizers.  Only 12 of them have fewer than 1,000 calories, 3 have fewer than 700, and none are under 600.  (Those numbers do not include dipping sauces.)  That’s what you’re eating before dinner?
  3. Drink water.
  4. Be wary of sauces.  A super-healthy meal can quickly turn not-so-healthy with the addition of some sauce.
  5. Ask for a to-go box and box half of it upon arrival.  This prevents you from either eating the whole thing (which is too much for one meal) and also stops you from picking at it once you’re done.
  6. Split a meal with one of your dining companions.  Don’t order extra because you’re splitting it, unless you want an extra side of steamed veggies 🙂
  7. Don’t get dessert.

What tips or tricks do you use to make sure your meals out don’t pack on extra weight?

“I exercised; I earned that [insert indulgence here].”

I have often heard people proclaim that since they exercised today, they have earned a treat.  Frequently the treat is in the form of a dessert.  The treat is always in the form of food or drink, at least from what I’ve heard.

There are two problems with this mindset:

  1. You will probably ingest more calories than you just burned off.
  2. Even if you don’t over-indulge, if you are exercising to lose weight, you’re essentially cancelling out the exercise you just did with the indulgence.

Exercise doesn’t typically burn as many calories as we think it does.  Lists of how many calories you burn per hour of exercise are here and here.  They’re not exact, and there are more variables than weight that determine how much you burn, but they’re good to give you a general idea.

Notice that the heavier you are, the more calories you burn, so if you are losing weight, as you get lighter, you will need either to exercise more or eat less to maintain your weight loss or to lose more weight.

The best summary of exercise and weight loss that I’ve heard: eat to lose weight; exercise to get fit.

None of this is to say that you can never have an edible treat.  Just do it mindfully, in small quantity, and infrequently (unless the quantity is very small).

What can you reward yourself with that isn’t food or drink?

Are you smarter than the food companies?

Today’s post is just a challenge for you.  A game, if you will.

Every time you eat or drink something for which the nutrition information is available (whether on the package, on a menu, on a website), guess how many calories you’re consuming, then check the package to see if you’re correct.  Remember to check for servings per package – not all packages that appear to be single-serving actually have only one serving in them.

We’re generally terrible at guessing these types of things, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.  Try it.

What  was your biggest surprise?

now on Twitter!

Second Chance FitCenter is now on Twitter at 2CFitCenter.  Most current tweets are just blog posts, but more will be forthcoming!

getting stuff done

Well, this has nothing to do with eating or exercising, but it just might be useful anyway…

Generally, stuff gets done when there is tension.  Especially when it’s stuff that you don’t really want to do.  This is why so many people work well on deadlines.  Deadlines rearrange the priority list.

Have you ever had some chores around the house — say, dusting — and it just doesn’t get done and doesn’t get done and then your parents decide they’re coming into town and magically the dusting gets done?  Tension.  Now it needs to get done.

So if you have stuff around the house that needs to get done, see if you can figure out what will light the fire under your butt and make it happen.  For me, it’s typically having company.

Now that I have training clients to the house on a weekly basis, dirt, clutter and the like don’t get too out of hand.  But there is still a pile of stuff that needs to be sold/trashed/donated.  A neat pile, but a pile none-the-less.  Well, we’re hosting an end-of-the-season party for the community band we play in this weekend.  The pile needs to go.  There’s the tension.  (That’s not why we’re hosting the party — just a side effect thereof.)  There are a few other small things around the house that I’ll get done before people are here this weekend.

The following weekend, an old friend will be here from out of town.  Guest bath needs to be cleaned.

You see how this works?

What odds and ends have you had undone for a long time?  What can you do to create a deadline so that you’ll make it happen?

Sunday update & links

Well, this whole “keeping the kitchen counter clean” plan is not working.  I will need to do some scrutinizing as to why we are having such trouble with this task.  I will give some credit and say that even in these weeks that it hasn’t worked out, it’s been much cleaner than it has in the past.  So there is progress.

I have two training appointments today, along with some chores around the house.  😦  Getting everything done on Saturday is sometimes easier said than done!  Despite that, I anticipate some quality time on the porch swing with a book.  I also would like to hang new blinds in two rooms.  We’ll see…

Here are some articles and blog posts that you might enjoy or find interesting:

9 ingredients to avoid in processed food

The Darker Side of Fat Free Pringles from Live Fit Blog

Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity — not an easy read, but very interesting

Cutting the Cord to Materialism from Zen Habits

Six Reasons to Focus on Liking Yourself, and How to Do It from The Positivity Blog

Organic Food Health Facts — interesting (long) article on some of the ins and outs of organic produce

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