Time to Break Your Scale

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How many times have we all gotten on a scale only to see a number that is greater than what we have expected?  This immediately takes away all the pride and positive energy we have been feeling about our recent accomplishments.  With one second of stepping on a flawed instrument, our self-image went in the toilet.  Lots of people are obsessed with how they look, always checking their reflection in a mirror or store windows, seeing imperfections that no one but them would notice, or constantly checking their weight on a scale and whatever number comes up will rule their day?  As you can probably guess, this is not healthy.  For the sake of parsimony in this article, I will forgo a discussion on the effects of the media, advertising, society and even the fitness industry itself. No wonder people struggle with how they see themselves, when they feel as if they are surrounded by a world of people with flawless skin and six pack abs.

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 The Problem            

Let’s start at the root of the problem. There are three major reasons someone will join a gym:

  1. To look and feel better
  2. Athletic performance and injury prevention
  3. Social

For most people it’s actually a combination of all of these factors.

The biggest factor is the first one: “to look and feel better”.  Here is where the problem lies. That sounds like a very admirable goal but if “to look better” is what’s driving you more than “to feel better”, you are without a doubt going to use the image you see in the mirror every morning before stepping into the shower and the number you see on the scale as the only measures of your progress.

The scale is a demoralizing way to measure your goal of looking better. In a given week your weight can change five to ten pounds. Due to time of day, what you ate, water consumption, if your birthday is at the beginning of a month or at the end, what phase the moon is in that night, and so forth.  You must be willing to give yourself permission to accept the fact that it is not the best measure of your progress and quit doing that to yourself.

Here is a little secret, if you are working hard, you are making progress but the changes won’t be seen overnight. Instead, savor the compliments you will undoubtedly receive from the people who don’t see you every day. They are the ones that can see your progress!

Bottom line – Take a break from the mirror AND the scale.

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A Better Way

There is a much better way.  It starts with tossing the scale out and not using the mirror as a scale for looks.  The answer starts with setting non-weight-based goals (e.g., Body Fat Percentage, measurements, pants and shirt sizes, before and after photos every three months, etc.).

After you have a goal, you need to get your mind straight.  As you know, there is no magic pill or routine or diet that will get you results in a day or a week. Your goal will take time. So plan realistically (S.M.A.R.T.). Realize that you may not see progress immediately, understand there will be setbacks and challenges, but all along the way, know the end result will be worth it.

Checking your progress too often will lead to frustration and you may end up giving all together. It is much better to check every six to eight weeks.  That is why before and after photos are so great, you may not realize how much progress you have made until you see where you were six months ago compared to where you are now.  Further, think about what a great accomplishment it is when the next time you go to the doctor and you are able to stop taking most or all of your prescriptions because your blood work came back drastically improved.  This is a true barometer of health, fitness progress, and overall wellness.

Next time you look in the mirror, don’t nitpick, and just tell yourself how great you look. Start the day off right with self-confidence and satisfaction with who you are.

If you have any questions, or if you want to take your fitness to next level, be sure to stop by 1130 Hickory St. or call (321-725-4500 ext. 7395/7391) the LifeShape Fitness Center and speak with one of the experienced personal trainers.  Please feel free to contact us with any further questions you may have regarding our exciting Personal Training and Group Fitness opportunities.

Andy Dutra, MS, AFAA-CPT
LifeShape Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor

 

The Next Best Exercise You’re NOT Doing

Every month a trainer from the LifeShape Fitness Center will be sharing a great exercise that most people often overlook.  This month our highlighted exercise will be the Plank.

The Plank is a fantastic functional exercise that is perfect for people of all fitness levels.  This exercise strengthens and targets the abdominals and back muscles.  The best part of this exercise is that it requires no additional equipment other than a solid floor and your own body.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that there are 3 main steps to successfully and safety perform the Plank:

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1.  Starting Position: Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat or floor with your elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and fingers facing forward. Engage your abdominal/core muscles. It should feel like you are tightening a corset around your ribs, waist and lower torso. Contract your thigh muscles to straighten your legs strongly and flex your ankles, (tucking your toes towards your shins).

2.  Upward Phase. Slowly lift your torso and thighs off the floor or mat.  Keep your torso and legs rigid.  Do not allow any sagging in your ribcage or low back. Avoid hiking your hips into the air or bending the knees.  Keep the shoulders away from the ears (no shrugging).  The shoulders should be directly over your elbows with your palms facing down through the entire exercise.  Continue to breathe, keeping the abdominals strong while holding this position. Try holding this position for 15 seconds at first, and slowly begin to increase the time you can plank.

3.  Downward Phase: Keep the torso and legs stiff as you slowly and gently lower your body back towards the mat or floor.  If you experience any pain in the lower back with this movement, stop the exercise immediately and consult with your doctor or personal trainer.  Repeat 3-4 times.

It is important to note that form is VERY important when performing the Plank.  Make that your shoulders, hips, and heels remain in a nice straight line (consider a plank of wood).  See the image below.

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Further, there are many variations of the Plank (e.g., Kneeling Planks, Side Planks, Dynamic Planks, Pendulum Planks, Single-Arm/Leg Planks, etc.).  See the image below for a possible Plank progression.

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If you have any more questions about the Plank (or any other exercise), or if you want to take your fitness to next level, be sure to stop by 1130 Hickory St. or call (321-725-4500 ext. 7395/7391) the LifeShape Fitness Center and speak with one of the experienced personal trainers.  Please feel free to contact us with any further questions you may have regarding our exciting Personal Training and Group Fitness opportunities.

Andy Dutra, MS, AFAA-CPT
LifeShape Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor

 

Fall Comfort Foods

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Most of us crave them every year, those cold-weather, gooey foods that bring us warm fuzzies and cozy memories. But do they really make us feel better? Some recent research suggests no, but each of us may experience a different response based on our current situation or feelings. Though there were some limitations, one study surprisingly showed eating a comfort food appeared to have no effect on mood (click here to read a summary of the study). Yet another study showed that we tend to use comfort food as a reward and when we feel happy, as opposed to when we feel sad or depressed.

comfortfoodWhatever the reason, many people can identify with this concept of using food for comfort. As we approach fall and cooler temperatures these cravings can sometimes intensify. So why not prepare some healthier options in advance (see chili recipe below). Another idea is to mix butternut squash or chopped spinach into mac & cheese recipes made with whole grain pasta and reduced-fat cheeses. For a dessert or snack, cook 6-8 sliced apples in a crock pot on low for 8 hours mixed with a dash of sugar, cinnamon & pumpkin pie spices, ¼ cup water and 2 Tbsp butter (try topping with a sprinkle of granola or oats and plain Greek yogurt).  Be creative and freeze pre-portioned meals in advance to focus on nutrition as well as enjoying the tastes of those foods you crave. If you use food often as a reward or comfort and it is interfering with your health goals, try experimenting with alternative coping techniques. It may require trying 5 or 6 different things to help you forget about food, but it is possible over time to change our behaviors. If you find you need additional support or specific tools to help, you may want to consider attending an upcoming Emotional Eating Group 8-week program (click here for details).

 

Kristine Van Workum, RD, CSSD, LDN
LifeShape Registered Dietitian & Owner of Brevard Nutrition (www.brevardnutrition.com)

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October 2014 Recipe – Pumpkin Chili

Source: http://memeinge.com/blog/pumpkin-chili/

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef {at least 90/10}
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded & minced {optional depending on desired spiciness}
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes {with juices}
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained

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Directions:

  • Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add ground beef, onions, and bell peppers.
  • Cook, breaking up meat, until meat is browned; drain and return to pot.
  • Add jalapeños, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Stir for a few minutes until fragrant, and add diced tomatoes & juices, chicken broth, and pumpkin.
  • Stir well; bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in black beans and add any additional seasoning if needed. Enjoy with desired toppings {ie. cheese, green onions, sour cream/plain Greek yogurt, and/or cornbread}

Nutrition Facts {for ~1 ½ cup serving size; serves ~6}: 299 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 23 g protein

For more recipes and a list of 7 healthy lunch ideas click here.

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

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Halloween can be a fun time for both kids and adults, so try to focus on your time together creating memories instead of the candy (or over-abundance of it)! If having candy in the house is a trigger for you, don’t buy it until the day before Halloween trick-or-treaters come knocking, or try buying a candy you don’t like or find tempting. As adults we often graze on the extra candy laying around the house when it’s visible, so either put it away or give it away. Many local dentists/doctors also have a “cash in your candy” day after Halloween where you can donate extra goodies to charities or to be mailed to our service men/women overseas – check your local papers for details. Here are a few additional Halloween tips to consider:

  • Eat a balanced dinner or snack before trick-or-treating; if you’re not hungry you may be less likely to graze or overeat the candy.
  • Focus on physical activity – enjoy time running around outdoors. You can even wear pedometers to see who takes the most steps on their time out and about in the neighborhood.
  • Consider healthier giveaways – kids like things that are unique so giving away coins/money, gum, individual packs of pretzels, popcorn, nuts, trail mix, raisins, tangerines, granola bars, or non-food items such as stickers, tattoos, Play-doh, and glow sticks are just a few alternatives.
  • Have kids sort candy at home so they can keep a few favorites and then donate or throw out the rest. How many times have you found that stale 6-month old candy in a cabinet after forgetting it was there? If that’s likely to happen, don’t bother keeping it in the first place.
  • If you host a party, work in some healthy “spooky” snacks; click here for ideas kids will love or here for simple and creative Halloween meal ideas.

Finally, for additional tips on how to eat mindfully this Halloween, click here.

Kristine Van Workum, RD, CSSD, LDN
LifeShape Registered Dietitian & Owner of Brevard Nutrition (www.brevardnutrition.com)

 

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October 2014 Recipe – Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Source:adapted from http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/pie/impossible-pumpkin-pie-cupcakes.html

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ c evaporated milk (2%)
  • 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (add extra if desired, or additional cinnamon/ginger/etc. to your liking)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray 12 cup muffin tin with non-cook spray
  • Mix pumpkin, sugars, eggs, vanilla & milk
  • Add flours, flaxseed, spices, salt, baking powder & baking soda to the mixture
  • Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups
  • Bake for 20 minutes; let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from pan
  • Remove cupcakes and chill for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator

Optional: top with small amount of whipped cream and/or additional sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Success!

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It’s time to check up on your goals!  Goals are an important aspect of everyone’s life, and are especially relevant in fitness. Fitness goals can range from running faster, lifting more weight, getting more muscular tone, losing weight, or just getting beach ready.  In order for your 2014 goals to be achieved they must be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-constrained).

Take a moment and ask yourself, how far how you come with 2014 goals?  Are they S.M.A.R.T.?  Are original goals still relevant, or do they need updating?  The truth of the matter is, there is no time better than the present to establish (or re-establish) your goals and maximize your future potential!

Professional Ironman Triathlete and developer of Thrive Fitness Brendan Brazier, provides 5 tips for achieving your fitness goals:

  1. Re-Evaluate Your Goals: Don’t get discouraged with what  you should be physically able to do, and carefully focus on what  you can realistically do right now. When we set unobtainable goals, we are easily discouraged, derailed, and quickly fall off track.  Set small incremental goals and track your performance towards reaching your overall goals.
  2. Revisit Your Schedule/Timing:  Maybe the gym is too busy after a long day at work or you’re just too tired to perform at your best early in the morning.  Staying on track will require you to analyze yourself to realize what time of day is best for you.  Maybe you get a boost of energy mid-day right before lunch, and this is a great time to go for a run or do an interval workout.  Other people are night-owls or early morning-birds.  Don’t let the activities and habits of others get in your way of reaching your 2014 goals.
  3. Look for New Routes:  There are numerous benefits to changing up your workout routine to ensure that your muscles don’t become too used to your normal routine. Look for different workouts that provide more efficient ways to engage in cardio, endurance and strength training. Remember to switch them up on a regular basis. When you’ve mastered these new workouts, continue to add more weight, distance or time.  This way you’ll avoid boredom and the dreaded plateau.
  4. Get a Training Buddy:  Training buddies are useful to keep you accountable, motivated and can be your support system when you’re struggling. They push to reach your personal best and keep you honest when you’re falling behind.  They can provide a friendly competition to get you moving a little faster or lift a little harder.  If you’re lacking motivation to get out of the house, find a complementary training buddy in a roommate, co-worker, friend, personal trainer or dog.
  5. Measure Your Success in a Consistent, Trackable Manner:  Measuring your fitness goals is a little like sightseeing on the road to glory.  Take the time to document your progress in a notebook or even better with a mobile phone app.  Tracking your success allows you to look back at your hard work and see that yes, you actually have run the 100 miles you set out to run. It may have been over a 4 to 6 month span, but it is possible and  you did it.  By visually assessing where are today and how far you have come in a short period of time will motivated you to continue to strive towards your ultimate goal!

Whatever activity you choose to engage in, remember that no matter how many times you get side-tracked or derailed, there is always a chance turn it around, re-fuel the body and mind, and repave the road to a new personal best.

If you have any more questions about goal-setting, or if you want to take your fitness to next level, be sure to stop by 1130 Hickory St. or call (321-725-4500 ext. 7395/7391) the LifeShape Fitness Center and speak with one of the experienced personal trainers. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions you may have regarding our exciting Personal Training and Group Fitness opportunities.

Andy Dutra, MS, AFAA-CPT LifeShape Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor

The Best Exercise You’re NOT Doing

Every month a trainer from the LifeShape Fitness Center will be sharing a great exercise that most people often overlook. This month our highlighted exercise will be the Body-Weight Squat.

The Body-Weight Squat is a fantastic functional exercise that is perfect for people of all fitness levels. This exercise strengthens and targets the abdominals, gluteus, lower back, hips, quads, hamstrings, calves, shins, ankles. The best part of this exercise is that it requires no additional equipment other than a solid floor and your own body. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests that there are 5 main steps to successfully and safety perform the Body-Weight Squat:

  1. Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your toes pointed straight ahead. Your hands can be by your sides with your palms facing inward or straight out in front of you with the palms facing downward. Be sure that your shoulders are relaxed back toward your hips.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize/brace your core. Be sure to keep your weight back onto your heels as you begin the exercise. The back half of the foot should remain connected to the floor at all times.
  3. Begin squatting downward by hinging at the hips, shifting them back and downward. Your hips and knees will begin to bend simultaneously. Do not allow your knees to forward past the toes. It is important to keep your core muscles engaged and try to keep your back flat or with its natural curve.
  4. Continue to lower downward until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Be sure that your heels do not lift off the floor or that your torso doesn’t begin to round. Be sure that your feet do not move from their initial position, the ankles do not bend inward or outward, and the knees remain lined up with the middle toes.
  5. On the way back up, be sure to maintain the neutral position of your back and keep the core engaged. As you return to the standing position, be sure that you push your feet into the floor through your heels.

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Continue this process for 60-75 seconds or until fatigued. Repeat 3-4 times.

If you have any more questions about the Body-Weight Squat (or any other exercise), or if you want to take your fitness to next level, be sure to stop by 1130 Hickory St. or call (321-725-4500 ext. 7395/7391) the LifeShape Fitness Center and speak with one of the experienced personal trainers. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions you may have regarding our exciting Personal Training and Group Fitness opportunities.

Andy Dutra, MS, AFAA-CPT LifeShape Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor