Friday, December 7, 2012

Keebs Fitness in Shape Magazine!

CLICK HERE to check out the article online! Kelly Borowiec, founder of Keebs Fitness, shares her training philosophy and why she isn't a big fan of running.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Causes Sore Muscles?

There are two types of exercise-related muscle soreness. Immediate muscle soreness quickly dissipates and is the pain you feel during, or immediately after, exercise.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) signals a natural adaptive process that the body initiates following intense exercise. It manifests 24 to 48 hours after the exercise session and spontaneously decreases after 72 hours.
Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the cause of DOMS, and the theories have been many and controversial. The most available research attributes it to microscopic tears in the connective tissue surrounding muscle following eccentric exercise.
Those who experience DOMS include conditioned individuals who increase the intensity, frequency or duration of their workouts, or participate in an activity with which they are unfamiliar. In addition, beginning exercisers, or those who have undergone a significant lapse in training, frequently experience soreness when starting a new exercise program.
Studies on the best methods to alleviate DOMS are almost as abundant as the number of studies conducted to determine its cause.
Cryotherapy (the topical application of ice), massage, stretching and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), among other less conventional approaches, have been tested to determine if they can prevent DOMS or are effective treatments. To date, no therapy that hastens the decrease of DOMS has been found. However, some of the therapies previously mentioned may have a minor impact if initiated immediately after intense or unusual exercise.

The Upside

Once you induce DOMS at a specific exercise intensity, you shouldn't experience that sensation again until the intensity is increased.
This is because DOMS has been shown to produce a rapid adaptation response, which means that the muscles adapt to an exercise intensity. Until it is changed, soreness won’t occur.
This is the basis for the most widely recommended approach to preventing DOMS: gradual progression and conservative increases in intensity, frequency or duration. Preliminary light exercise may prevent the onset of soreness following a heavy eccentric exercise workout.
Beginners should exercise with light weights, two to three times per week for one or two months, then gradually build. Already conditioned exercisers who want to try a new workout or sport also should begin gradually, taking care not to be overzealous.
A muscle contracts eccentrically when it lengthens under tension during exercise. For example, during a biceps curl, the biceps muscle shortens during the concentric lifting phase and lengthens during the eccentric lowering phase.
Eccentric contractions also can occur during aerobic activity, such as downhill running, in which the quadriceps muscle repeatedly lengthens against gravity to lower the center of mass and aid in shock absorption.
To minimize DOMS, reduce activities that produce high-intensity or high-frequency eccentric contractions (such as heavy resistance training and downhill running, respectively) at the beginning of an exercise program. Then, gradually introduce these activities after several weeks of training and progress slowly so the body has time to adapt to the different challenges of these types of exercises.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

5 Common Fitness Saboteurs and How to Defeat Them

Ever have those days when you feel like the universe is conspiring to keep you from reaching your fitness goals? Even the most committed fitness enthusiasts face challenges to staying active. Sometimes we sabotage ourselves. Other times, life interferes with our exercise plans.
Check out this list of common fitness saboteurs and learn how to combat them with practical strategies that really work:
1. Stress

When you’re up against a work deadline or the kids are sick, you may feel you can’t handle one more thing, including exercise. But taking time out to go for a brisk walk or workout is one of the best things you can do during times of intense stress. Exercise helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression and helps boost your mood, enabling you to cope with whatever you’re facing. Even a short workout is better than nothing.

2. Unrealistic Expectations

Novice exercisers get frustrated when they expect big results too soon after starting a fitness program. Because they haven’t lost a huge amount of weight or developed six-pack abs after only a week or two of exercise, they throw in the towel. To avoid this mistake, set realistic goals and practice extreme patience. You can’t undo 10 years of a sedentary lifestyle in a week of walking. If you stick with a regimen, your body will respond to exercise. It takes at least six weeks of regular exercise and sometimes more for physiological changes to kick in.
It’s called the training effect. You’ll know it’s happening when your workouts start feeling easier; when you can tolerate longer, harder exercise sessions; and when you can do housework, yardwork, or climb stairs with less effort.
3. Overtraining

Demanding daily workouts without scheduled rest won’t help you reach your goals faster. Instead, it’ll undermine your progress. Overtraining occurs when the exercise load is excessive related to the amount of time allowed for recovery. Overtaxing the body’s systems leads to decreased performance. A day or two off from vigorous exercise each week is recommended for rest and recovery. This can be done through a combination of scheduling rest days into your fitness plan and alternating hard and easy workouts. For example, cross-training, swapping out a few runs for swimming or bicycling, is another effective way to avoid overtraining, but scheduled recovery days are still recommended.
4. The Unexpected

You were going to walk after work, but now you’ve been asked to work late. Or perhaps you planned to swim, but then you find out that the pool is closed for maintenance. Life happens, and you can either throw up your hands and say, “forget it,” or accept it and roll with it. Resilience is your ability to bounce back quickly from life’s surprises and setbacks. This can be improved with practice. Strategies include practicing good self-care, such as eating right, sleeping well, and exercising regularly, along with cultivating good relationships, practicing optimism, taking decisive action, etc. As you become more resilient, you’re less likely to ditch your workout when something comes up. Instead, you’ll be able to quickly modify your plans and move forward.
5. Negative Self-Talk

“I’m so lazy, I’ll never be fit;” “I didn’t even exercise once this week;” “I’m such a loser.” Would you talk to a friend or loved one this way? Listening to negative self-talk isn’t motivating, so what’s the point? Negative self-talk only destroys your confidence and motivation to the point where you can’t visualize success. But you don’t have to put up with it. The next time you recognize a critical thought, stop it and replace it with a positive thought, like this: “I’m so proud of myself for walking at lunch time today. It took a lot of effort, but I did it.” Behavior change is hard. Give yourself some credit for every step you take toward your fitness goals. Practice intentionally giving yourself positive feedback and watch your motivation soar.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

9 Things to Look For in a Quality Weight Loss Program

Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on weight loss programs and products, and yet obesity rates continue to increase. With the huge variety of weight loss programs available, how can you choose the right one that will help you lose weight safely and keep it off for good? Here are 9 key items to keep in mind:


1. Safety. A sound weight-loss program will encourage you to check with your healthcare provider before you get started. This visit allows your provider a chance to offer any special precautions or guidelines based on your health status and should include a screening to assess your readiness for exercise.
2. Credibility. For best results, the program should have credentialed providers such as registered dietitians, certified fitness professionals, certified wellness coaches, behavioral health specialists (licensed psychologists or counselors) and such licensed medical professionals as physicians and registered nurses. Use caution with peer-led programs. That is people who claim they have lost weight successfully. These programs can offer support and guide you through the program functions, but often don’t have a staff with an educational background in exercise, nutrition, or behavior change to offer professional advice.
3. Flexibility.Programs that demand adherence to a rigid diet or exercise plan set you up for failure. Look instead for programs that integrate your food and physical activity preferences. For long-term success, you‘ll need to adopt lifestyle changes you can live with.
4. Realistic outcomes. “Lose 20 pounds in 1 week” may catch your eye, but the truth is that permanent weight loss happens slowly. Most experts recommend a weight loss rate of ½ pound up to a maximum 2 pounds per week for lasting results. Ask to see program outcomes data regarding average amount of weight lost and long-term follow-up results. If no data is available, or they won’t share it, consider it a red flag.
5. Self-monitoring. One study found that people who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. Writing down what you’re eating keeps you accountable and makes you think twice about going back for seconds. Keeping an exercise record can be extremely motivating as you review your progress and see how far you’ve come. And regular weighing, whether daily or weekly, has been linked to greater amounts of moderate weight loss and less weight regain. Self-monitoring offers an objective look at how you’re doing in relation to your goals and that’s extremely helpful, especially when you hit a plateau and need to adjust your approach.
6. Sensible nutrition. Avoid programs that eliminate entire food categories, such as fruit, grains, or fats. According to the American Dietetic Association, all foods fit in a healthy diet. Plans that advocate special combinations of foods, certain foods in unlimited quantities, or are too restrictive, don’t work. Eat a variety of whole grains, colorful vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy products and lean sources of protein and you’re on your path to a healthier diet.
7. Regular exercise. Getting active and staying active is the cornerstone to maintaining a healthy body weight. Exercise optimizes conditions in the brain for enhanced learning and decision-making. That’s extra brainpower to help you adopt healthier habits and to keep you on track. It’s also a great mood-elevator, boosts metabolism and can help counteract emotional eating. A weight loss program should encourage you to find ways to make physical activity a part of your everyday life.
8. Cognitive changes. Learning to think in new ways is essential for long-term success. A reputable program will help you replace faulty thinking patterns with positive, productive ways of thinking that support your health goals. Example: Replace “I’ll never lose weight” with “I’m learning how to better manage obstacles to healthy eating, and I’m making better choices every day.”
9. Believable claims and no pressure. Walk away from any program that pressures you to buy special foods, supplements, pills, or gadgets or promises a quick fix. There are no magic pills to “melt your fat away.” Sustainable weight loss requires a significant effort and a sensible approach, and with the right support, expertise, and guidance, you can make it happen.

Cold Weather is Just Around the Corner!

In beautiful Saratoga, we rarely experience outdoor temperatures that are considered dangerously low for exercising. Lucky for us, we can usually get away with just a track suit on even the chilliest mornings. But if you plan to travel this winter, or if you're especially sensitive to cooler temperatures, read on to learn how to protect yourself...

Exercising in the Cold
The biggest concern for exercising in the cold is hypothermia, or too much heat loss. When you exercise in a cold environment you must consider one primary factor: How much heat will your body lose during exercise?
Heat loss is controlled in two ways:
  • Insulation, consisting of body fat plus clothing
  • Environmental factors, including temperature, wind and whether you’re exercising in the air or in the water. Each of these factors plays a role in the body’s ability to maintain a comfortable temperature during exercise.

Insulation

Although many people aspire to have a lean figure, people with a little more body fat are better insulated and will lose less heat. Clothing adds to the insulation barrier and is clearly the most important element in performance and comfort while exercising in the cold. Generally, heat loss from the head alone is about 50% at the freezing mark, and by simply wearing a helmet or hat, a person can stay outside indefinitely.
Clothing is generally a good insulator because it has the ability to trap air, a poor conductor of heat. If the air trapped by the clothing cannot conduct the heat away from the body, temperature will be maintained. Unlike air, however, water is a rapid conductor of heat and people will sweat and risk significant heat loss even in the coldest of temperatures. With this in mind, you want to choose clothing that can trap air but allow sweat to pass through, away from the body.
By wearing clothing in layers, you have the ability to change the amount of insulation that is needed. While many new products can provide such a layered barrier, it is important to avoid heavy cotton sweats or tightly woven material that will absorb and retain water. Because these materials cannot provide a layer of dry air near the skin, they can increase the amount of heat your body loses as you exercise.
Keeping the hands and feet warm is a common concern when exercising in the cold. Lower temperatures cause blood to be shunted away from the hands and feet to the center of the body to keep the internal organs warm and protected. Superficial warming of the hands will return blood flow to prevent tissue damage. Blood flow will not return to the feet unless the temperature of the torso is normal or slightly higher [0.5 to 1.0 degree Fahrenheit (F) above normal]. So, to keep your feet warm you must also keep the rest of your body warm at all times.

Check With the Weatherman

Always check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold. Data from the National Safety Council suggest little danger to individuals with properly clothed skin exposed at 20° F, even with a 30 mph wind. A danger does exist for individuals with exposed skin when the wind-chill factor (a combined effect of temperature and wind) falls below –20° F.
That can be achieved by any combination of temperatures below 20° F with a wind of 40 mph and temperatures below –20° F with no wind. If you are exercising near the danger zone for skin exposure, it also is advisable to warm the air being inhaled by wearing a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth.

Guidelines for Exercising in the Cold

  • Check the temperature and wind conditions before you go out and do not exercise if conditions are dangerous.
  • Keep your head, hands and feet warm.
  • Dress in layers that can provide a trapped layer of dry air near the skin (avoid cotton sweats and other similar materials).
  • Warm the air you are breathing if temperatures are below your comfort level (usually around 0° F).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Secret to Sticking With Exercise

There's a big reason why the average American only gets 17 minutes of physical activity a day, barely half of the recommended amount. Many people give excuses for falling short, usually attributing the gap to some variation of having "no time." The reality is it all comes down to one issue—value.

People do things that are important to them. Every day you set priorities, schedule your time and, for the most part, follow your "to-do" list. The most important things get done and things you care less about are most likely to fall off the schedule.

So why does the typical American value exercise less than other tasks? My theory is that it has to do with a lack of purpose for exercise. It's not meaningful. Arguments like "helps manage weight," "gives you more energy," and "helps prevent disease" just fall on deaf ears. People know that exercise has its benefits—even that it can help save their lives. But it just doesn't resonate enough with their day-to-day values to become a priority and eventually a habit.

If you talk to people who are committed to exercise, they will tell you a different story than someone who can't seem to string together any type of regular activity. An avid exerciser needs the workout. They love the challenge. They love the way they feel afterwards. They value the "thinking time" exercise provides. Whatever it is, the reasons for staying active go beyond fitting into a pair of pants. An honest, avid exerciser would also tell you that they aren't always motivated to work out. They take days off, and they may even take a break, but they always come back to it. Exercise is more meaningful to them.

If you find yourself getting "average American" activity—around two hours a week or less, when you should be exercising at least four hours a week—don't just settle. You can change … if you want to. All you have to do is find your meaning, your value, your motivation.

Here are five steps you can take to make exercise more meaningful for you:


1. Come up with a list of reasons why exercise is important to you. Take note of what exactly you get in return for your investment in exercise.

2. Take a look at your list, and find a deeper meaning for each one of your reasons. Ask yourself, "Why do I care about _________?" For example, you might have written: "I need to exercise because I'm concerned about my health." But why is that important? Now you might follow up by writing: "My mom had a heart attack and didn't have healthy habits, and I don't want that to happen to me." Dig even deeper. Why is that important? You might follow up by writing: "Because I have a child whom I want to be there for as long as possible and a partner who makes me happy beyond belief. I want as much time with them as possible." Get the idea? For whatever reason, "concern about health" does not carry as much meaning or value as "be with my partner and child as long as possible". You aren't just exercising for you. You are exercising for them.

3. Come up with as many meaningful statements as you can and review that list. These are your anchors—the things that will keep you grounded and focused on making exercise a priority. Like the anchor that keeps a ship from sailing away on a breeze to "no man's land," your anchors will keep you focused on your goals.

4. Open your calendar and schedule your workout time every day for the next two weeks. That's right, every day. I'm saying that because something is bound to come up that will have you bailing on your exercise time. Even with your anchors and new, meaningful motivations to exercise, you are human. You will inevitably opt for other activities at times, choosing to get more sleep, watch TV or spend some time with the family. It's better to schedule more exercise than you think you will do, and take it off your calendar when you miss a workout, than to plan for your typical exercise schedule.

5. Use your anchors. Whether you write them on post-it notes, attach them to your workout schedule, or just review the list daily, you need reminders for WHY you are doing what you are doing—and skinny jeans just ain't gonna cut it. If it were that simple, everyone would be getting the exercise they need.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Top 8 Benefits of Squats

What makes squats fantastic?

Builds Muscle in Your Entire Body
Squats obviously help to build your leg muscles (including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building.

In fact, when done properly, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in your body, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas of your body aside from your legs.

So squats can actually help you improve both your upper and lower body strength.

Functional Exercise Makes Real-Life Activities Easier
Functional exercises are those that help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to operate pieces of gym equipment. Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, as humans have been squatting since the hunter-gatherer days. When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.

Burn More Fat
One of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories is actually to gain more muscle! For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.

Maintain Mobility and Balance
Strong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are phenomenal for increasing leg strength. They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance, while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle groups, which helps prevent falls – which is incidentally the #1 way to prevent bone fractures versus consuming mega-dose calcium supplements and bone drugs.

Prevent Injuries
Most athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen. They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.

Boost Your Sports Performance -- Jump Higher and Run Faster
Whether you're a weekend warrior or a mom who chases after a toddler, you'll be interested to know that studies have linked squatting strength with athletic ability. i Specifically, squatting helped athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why this exercise is part of virtually every professional athlete's training program.

Tone Your Backside, Abs and Entire Body
Few exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it's an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs, and, of course, your legs. Furthermore, squats build your muscles, and these muscles participate in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Help with Waste Removal
Squats improve the pumping of body fluids, aiding in removal of waste and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, including organs and glands. They're also useful for improved movement of feces through your colon and more regular bowel movements.

What's the Proper Way to Perform a Squat?

Squats have long been criticized for being destructive to your knees, but research shows that when done properly, squats actually improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue.ii In the video below, personal trainer and coach Darin Steen demonstrates safe squat techniques for beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Warm up
Stand with your feet just over shoulder width apart
Keep your back in a neutral position, and keep your knees centered over your feet
Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until you reach a 90-degree angle
Return to starting position -- repeat 15-20 times, for 2-3 sets for beginners (do this two or three times a week)
Breathe in as you lower, breathe out as you return to starting position

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Getting Warmer - Stay Hydrated!

We all know that water is essential to the human body. Yet, many of us fail to drink it. We fail to drink enough of it, often enough. According the Department of Environmental Quality, the average adult needs to replace 10 cups (80 ounces) of water per day for their body's normal processes. This figure can more than double if the person is very active with strenuous activities and perspiring heavily.
Let's take a look at 10 tips to help correct the problem of not drinking enough water in an enjoyable way.
1. Drink a water that has a taste and flavor that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy the taste, you will not drink it easily. Try out several varieties of water, bottled water, tap water, spring water, and purified water (bottled, tap, or both) to find one that is preferable. Some tap waters taste like chlorine and will need a purification system. Other waters can tasty salty, sandy, or tinny or smell like rotten eggs.
If you don't want to invest in a purification system, taste several varieties of the bottled water. Most areas have refill stations in grocery chains that refill small and large bottles with purified water. The most natural water that can be consumed is spring water, this can be found in a bottle or if you have a well being fed by a spring that your household water is coming from. Just read your labels to know what you are drinking.
2. Make sure that the water is clean. Take a sample of your favorite waters to a place in your area that will test the water quality for impurities for free. Most areas have places willing to do this. Spring waters will have a higher mineral content which is usually fine for health. Impurities like lead are very harmful. The optimum water PH for health and healing of your body will be 7.5.
It is perfectly acceptable to have the spring or bottled water that you are using checked too. It would be a wise decision to mark it on your calendar to have your water tested yearly so that you can make sure what you are putting into your body is safe. I have brought samples of my well water, tap water, and bottled water in depending on where I have lived to have them checked. It is wise to check what you are drinking out when it is available for free.
3. Realize that your brain is 75% water and that the slightest dehydration will affect your thinking processes. It can cause decreased energy, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness according to the Registered Dietitians of the Suntory Good Health Advisory Board. Your body needs water for respiration, perspiration, and to clean out toxins as well as for many other processes. If you urine is not clear to pale yellow, then you are not drinking enough. People die of health issues that could be prevented every day by drinking enough water, eating healthy, and exercising. If you are reading this article, it means that you are much too smart to fall into that trap.
Thinking about why your body needs water can be a motivational factor because few people would choose to have an illness, cancer, or disease knowingly. Allow yourself to feel good about your decision to drink more water knowing that you are making a conscious decision to have better physical health, clearer thinking, nicer skin, and allowing your body what it needs to flush toxins out of your system. Knowledge is only powerful when we let it become wisdom - knowledge applied.
4. Since it is recommended to drink at least 80 ounces of water (10 cups) per day for the average adult, more if you are active, then drinking water will need to both convenient and easy to remember. Most people are visual, so whether you use a pitcher or large water bottle to store your purified water, put this front and center in your refrigerator. Make is very easy and convenient to stay hydrated with your water.
If you are very visual person, influenced easily by advertising and marketing, put your water in a nice looking container or pitcher. Aesthetics can be used to influence you to drink more water. If your pitcher reminds you of a vacation, beauty, health, etc. then you might be more likely to drink your water. For some people, the plain plastic water bottle or recycled massive container is not very motivating. For these people, putting their water in a beautiful pitcher makes it more appetizing. When you drink your water, you can also drink it in an elegant or beautiful glass designated as "your special water glass" or a frosted mug with ice. These simple alterations in presentation can make drinking water a much more pleasurable experience.
5. To enhance the taste slightly, if you need a little variety during the day to drink as much water as needed, add a slice or two of fresh lemon or lime. You can pre-slice the citrus and put it in a reusable container to store in a refrigerator at work to help you drink more water during the work day.
A few drops of lemon or lime, plus dropping the little circles of fruit into a nice clear glass will make your water taste fresher and appear more appealing to the eye. Little tricks like this can work wonders and make a big difference. Pop a nice umbrella to your glass and you will be reminded of a tropical vacation.
6. If you find that you need more flavor to drink water because you are so used to drinks packed with sweetness and flavor, then add half a squeezed fresh lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or another fruit from the citrus family. This will definitely change the flavor, yet it will still be a strong base of water to meet your daily requirements.
Try different combinations too, like half a fresh lemon and half a lime. Or half a grapefruit with a full tangerine. You will be surprised at what nice combinations you will be able to come up with that will be full of flavor and great for your health. After a few days, or weeks, up to 21 - 28 days of drinking water with fruit, you will find that your body will start to crave water. And you will develop an "inner knowing" of what your body is asking for, many times we mistakenly "mis-diagnose" our bodies thirst cries as hungry cries.
7. Another great way to get your hydration needs met plus adding extra vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants is to make a fruity blend of fruity juicy water with the pulp. Add 10 to 12 ounces of water in a blender, then add pieces of a whole piece of fruit chopped up. Blend and puree the mixture until it is a smooth juice.
Fruits to try that work excellent are peaches, pears, applies, citrus, kiwi, mangoes, and even tomatoes. Just 1 fruit to 10 - 12 ounces of water. Fruits have their own natural sugars and when you blend the pulp in you will be getting some added fiber. This definitely counts as an effective and delicious way to increase your hydration. Who says that drinking water must be boring and plain?
8. Drink a full glass of water whenever you think you are hungry. Drink a glass 15 to 30 minutes before your meals. We usually feel hunger cues 5 to 10 times per day and half of these pangs are really thirst cues. If you eat a snack when you are really thirsty, then you will find that you are still hungry when the snack has been consumed. You might also find yourself hungry 15 minutes later. This is because you are not actually hungry at all, you are thirsty. Try as you might, that candy bar will not quench your thirst. An added bonus to this step is that you will probably find that you actually eat less and may even drop a few pounds with no other adjustments to your meals or exercise routine when you simply drink water first before snacks and meals.
9. Enlist the help of a "Hydration Buddy," basically find a close friend or family member that you like, appreciate, and respect who you can use as an accountability partner for about 1 - 2 months until drinking water is a habit. This friend or family member can call, email, or text message you at agreed upon times like the afternoon and evening to remind you to drink a glass of water.
Accountability works. It works in breaking serious addictions, so it can also be used to pro-actively learn new habits that are healthy for your body and the mind. Remember drinking water is healthy for your mind because your brain is 75% water and needs it to function optimally.
10. Use technology to assist you in remembering to drink water. Set a clock or a timer to go off about every hour. Use that as a cue to take a break, stand up, do some stretches, take little walk or bathroom break, and then drink a full glass of water or refill the water from your previous hour.
At first thought, this might appear to be an interruption and a time waster. However, your brain needs the hydration to work at optimal performance levels and your body including your back and spine will thank you for taking the time to change positions and stretch it a little. You will find that you will actually be more productive, healthier, and positive when you take a stretch and water break regularly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Determining Your Fitness Goals

Determining your personal fitness goals is one of the most critical steps needed to facilitate your success in taking an active role in your health and well-being. The probability of success is far greater when you define what the end result should look like prior to beginning the task. In relation to your personal fitness goals, you want to make sure that you will achieve the results you desire in the timeframe you have defined. For example, your short-term personal fitness goal may be to lose 25 pounds of body weight and a total of 12 inches within the first 3 months of participating in your fitness program.

By defining your personal fitness goals prior to beginning your fitness routine, you can monitor your progress as you embark on your journey towards better health. One benefit to this approach is that, by actively monitoring your results, you will actually see your results in real time, thus improving your motivation and sense of accomplishment. A second benefit to defining your fitness goals prior to beginning your fitness program is that you will quickly be able to assess whether you are obtaining the results at a rate necessary to accomplish your personal goal in the timeframe that you had defined. If you are not on pace to achieve your personal fitness goals within your defined timeline, then you will still have time to modify your fitness program to allow yourself to get back on schedule.

Determine Current Fitness Level

The first step in setting your personal fitness goals is to determine your current fitness level and abilities. In order for you to increase your probability of achieving your personal fitness goals, you need to ensure that you avoid setting unrealistic goals for yourself. For example, it would be extremely unrealistic to set a short-term goal of becoming a bodybuilder or a seasoned long distance runner when you have no previous training in those specific disciplines. In fact, this exact type of scenario is one of the leading reasons why individuals get very discouraged with their fitness routine and give up altogether. It is imperative that your personal fitness goals are realistic and represent goals relevant to your current level of fitness. Thereafter, all that's required to achieve your personal fitness goals will be effort, persistence, patience and time. 

Set Flexible, Short-Term Goals


When you first begin your fitness program, or any other goal-oriented project, it is important to define several interim sub-goals (also known as milestones), thus allowing you to monitor your rate of progress in relation to your primary goal. In addition, as you begin to achieve each of the interim milestones along the way, you will begin to believe that the actual obtainment of your goal is achievable. This approach toward goal setting will facilitate a higher level of belief, confidence, motivation and probability of success. There is no correct or incorrect method for defining and setting your sub-goals. For instance, your first milestone could be defined as arriving at the fitness center on time and three times during your first week of exercising. If you were able to achieve this milestone, then you should feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you are on the right track and on schedule.  

It's important to remember that once you have defined your milestones and goals, they are not etched in stone. Just as life is diverse and ever-changing, so is the possibility that your goals are as well. However, a word of caution: any modifications that you make to your original sub-goals and goals should be closely scrutinized. It is not acceptable to reduce the level of difficulty associated with your goals because you do not feel like focusing and working hard. However, if you find that your original goal was too simple or that there have been several changes in your personal life that simply will not allow you to set aside as much time as you had defined for a fitness program, it may be necessary to adjust your goals. In the event that you had originally set your goals at a level that was insufficiently challenging, you can modify them to a more aggressive and challenging level.  

Challenge Yourself with Variety


As you become more and more comfortable and consistent with your fitness program, you may even want to challenge yourself by trying a couple of different types of fitness routines. For instance, if your fitness program consists of riding a stationary bike, running on a treadmill and circuit training on weight training machines 3 times a week, you may want to add an aerobics class, a swimming routine or a jogging routine to the fourth day of your existing fitness program. Another option could be to exercise with a workout partner that is slightly ahead of you in terms of fitness. By following the pace of your new workout partner, you will instantly increase the level of intensity of your workouts.   

No matter your current fitness level, it's important to always remember that having a carefully constructed plan, coupled with a challenging but obtainable set of goals, will provide you with a higher level of focus, clarity, and appreciation for the effort you put forth. This type of reward (the attainment of a challenging set of goals) will always provide you with a sense of pride, accomplishment and the motivation required to take the next step in your ongoing fitness program. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tips on Avoiding Low-Back Pain

1. Use backrests and lumbar supports when sitting.

2. Strengthen your abdominal muscles.

3. Change bodily positions regularly.

4. Hold loads close to your body for better support and stability.

6. If possible, adjust workstations and chairs to comfortable heights.

7. Practice stress management techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.

8. Bend at the knees when lifting heavy objects.

9. Before and after each workout, perform sufficient warm-up and cool-down exercises
respectively.

10. Select comfortable, supportive footwear. Also, avoid hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

Over 20 million people in the US have diabetes, but many cases are preventable. And there are important steps you can take to lower your risk.

The interactive link provided below estimates your risk of diabetes and provides personalized tips for prevention. Anyone can use it, but it’s most accurate for people who have never had any type of blood sugar problem. If you’ve had problems with your blood sugar in the past, be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk of diabetes.

To estimate your risk of diabetes and learn about ways to lower that risk, take a few minutes to answer some questions about your health, background, and lifestyle. Your "Disease Risk" can’t tell you if you'll get diabetes or not, but it can tell you where to focus your prevention efforts—because the best way to fight diabetes is to stop it before it starts!

Click here to begin:
http://www.yourdiseaserisk.siteman.wustl.edu/hccpquiz.pl?lang=english&func=start&quiz=diabetes

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Link Between Diet Soda and Weight Gain

Data from a recent study by the American Diabetes Association shows that while diet sodas may be free of calories, they do not prevent you from gaining weight (via CBS). In fact, they may contribute to weight gain. Diet soda also contributes to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.

The ADA analyzed measures of height, weight, and waist circumference compared to diet soda consumption over a period of nine and a half years and found that the adults who drank more diet soda per day gained more weight and added to their waistlines.

Those who drank two or more diet sodas a day added four more centimeters to their waistlines over time.

So if there aren't calories, what is causing the weight gain? In another study, the ADA, fed one group of mice a normal diet, and another group the same diet with the addition of aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in most diet drinks. At the end of three months, the mice on the aspartame diet had much higher blood glucose levels.

A co-author of both studies told the Daily Mail: "Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don't deliver something that will squelch the appetite." She added the lack of real sugar could inhibit the body from feeling full.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fructose Intake is Linked to Visceral Fat


The health effects of fructose consumption, largely from high-fructose corn syrup, have been the subject of considerable controversy among scientists and consumers alike. Now a study in the February issue of The Journal of Nutrition reports that fructose consumption may increase cardiovascular risk factors because it increases visceral fat--the kind that accumulates around internal organs.

Researchers examined 559 teens in Georgia, recording body mass index, exercise habits and fat mass. They also asked what the students had consumed in the past 24 hours and measured their body fat.

After controlling for other factors, the researchers found that higher fructose consumption was associated with increased systolic blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a sign of systemic inflammation) and visceral fat, and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol — all known risks for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

But when they controlled for visceral fat, the effect of fructose alone was weakened. It was apparently not fructose itself, but its tendency to increase visceral fat that led to a rise in risk factors.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Following a Low-Protein Diet? Beware.

People consuming excess calories on a low-protein diet may gain less weight than others, a new study reports, but they do so at a cost: the loss of lean body mass.


In a controlled experiment that was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers hospitalized 25 volunteers and put them on a weight-stabilizing diet for two to three weeks. Then they randomly assigned them to a diet composed of 5 percent, 15 percent or 25 percent protein, stuffing them for two months with 40 percent more calories than the weight-stabilizing diet had required.

Unsurprisingly, everyone put on weight. Those on the normal and high-protein diets gained an average of more than 13.5 pounds, and those in the low-protein group about seven pounds.

Everyone gained about 7.5 pounds of fat mass, but the results for lean body mass were different. The medium-protein group gained 6.3 pounds of lean body mass, and the high-protein consumers gained seven pounds. The low-protein eaters, on the other hand, lost 1.5 pounds of lean body mass.

On a low-protein diet, the body needs to get protein from somewhere, so it gets it from lean body mass. And that will inevitably hamper your health/weight loss goals. So make sure your diet includes adequate protein, which is possible even if you are a vegetarian :)

Keebs Fitness Homepage

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are your shoulder workouts doing more harm than good?

For boot campers and gym rats looking to build strength, poor form or technique can turn shoulder workouts into a fast track to physical therapy. About a third of all resistance training injuries involve the deltoids--the muscles that form the rounded contour of the shoulder, making them one of the most common injuries that occur in the weight room.

But many of these injuries can be prevented with small changes in technique, a fact highlighted by new research published in the latest issue of Strength & Conditioning Journal.

The research focuses on one of the most popular shoulder exercises for men and women: the upright row. If you spend any time around the weight rack at your gym, chances are you know it.

To perform an upright row, pick up a barbell with an overhand grip, hold it by your waist, and lift straight up toward your chin. Some people use a pair of light dumbbells, kettle bells or a cable machine. All accomplish the same goal, strengthening the trapezius (a large muscle that spans the neck, shoulders and back) and the medial deltoid (the middle of the three muscles that make up the deltoids).

The problem, research shows, is that most people invariably lift the weight too high, which can lead to shoulder impingement, in which the shoulder blade rubs, or impinges, on the rotator cuff, causing pain and irritation.

...So, here are three simple steps to remember, which can reduce the risk of injury:

1) Keep the weight as close to your body as possible during the movement.
2) Avoid the temptation to pull the weight up to your chin or nose.
3) Don’t let your elbows or the weight climb any higher than your shoulders.

The same rule holds for another popular exercise called the lateral raise, which develops the medial deltoids. For this exercise, it's important to lift the weights out to the side, arms slightly bent — but do not extend any higher than the level of your shoulders. Just as with the upright row, poor form in the lateral raise can lead to impingement.

Exercising the medial deltoids carries a number of aesthetic and practical benefits. In addition to creating more muscle definition, the exercises can round out the shoulders and enhance the look of the upper arms.  They can also build strength for everyday activities like carrying groceries, lifting heavy objects or hoisting small children.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Core Muscles

The major muscles of your core include:

•Transverse Abdominis (TVA) - The deepest of the abdominal muscles, located under the obliques (muscles of your waist). It acts like a weight belt, wrapping around your spine for protection and stability.
Target Exercise: Plank

• External Obliques - These muscles are on the side and front of the abdomen, around your waist.
Target Exercise: Arm Sweep

• Internal Obliques - These muscles lie under the external obliques, running in the opposite direction.
Target Exercise: Crossover Crunch

• Rectus Abdominis - The Rectus Abdominis is a long muscle that extends along the front of the abdomen. This is the 'six-pack' part of the abs that becomes visible with reduced body fat.
Target Exercise: Crunch

• Erector Spinae - The erector spinae is actually a collection of three muscles along your neck to your lower back.
Target Exercise: Back Extension

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Last 10 Pounds

You know what I like to call those last 10 or 15 pounds that won't come off no matter what you do? Vanity pounds. The term describes our desire to lose weight that, as far as our bodies are concerned, actually feels healthy. Today's society pressures us to want to look a certain way, so for aesthetic reasons we try to be thinner than our bodies want us to be. Losing your first 50 pounds might have been tough, but believe me, dropping those final few stubborn pounds is a whole different challenge. The body struggles to hold on to that last bit of fat for survival purposes. Now, don't get me wrong, you can lose the weight if you want to, but it will require you to muster a tremendous amount of restraint and willpower. If you're really up for it, try the following for 30 days: 

Cut your sodium to 1,000 mg a day.

Drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.

Cut out processed foods.

Abstain from alcohol.

Train at 85 percent of your MHR (Maximum Heart Rate) for 60 minutes at least 3 times a week.

Dynamic Stetching

The best kind of warm up before a tough workout is a few minutes of cardio (such as jumping rope or jumping jacks) followed by dynamic stretching. We were taught years ago to sit or stand and stretch one muscle group at a time. Contrary to popular belief, this kind of static stretching — which helps prevent muscle soreness and improves flexibility — is best performed AFTER a workout, when your muscles are very warm and loose. In the past several years, fitness experts have discovered that there is a much more effective and healthy way to stretch BEFORE a workout: the dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretching is basically stretching with motion, so your body gets a chance to warm up the muscles slowly and in a functional way. It's a 1-2-3 punch: You warm up your body, get your heart rate up, and stretch all at the same time! Do them on a level surface for a total of about five minutes before you begin your workout. You will notice that with time the exercises will become easier and they will help improve your coordination, flexibility, and balance. High-Knee Walking and Trunk Rotations are some good ones to try!The best kind of warm up before a tough workout is a few minutes of cardio (such as jumping rope or jumping jacks) followed by dynamic stretching. We were taught years ago to sit or stand and stretch one muscle group at a time. Contrary to popular belief, this kind of static stretching — which helps prevent muscle soreness and improves flexibility — is best performed AFTER a workout, when your muscles are very warm and loose. In the past several years, fitness experts have discovered that there is a much more effective and healthy way to stretch BEFORE a workout: the dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretching is basically stretching with motion, so your body gets a chance to warm up the muscles slowly and in a functional way. It's a 1-2-3 punch: You warm up your body, get your heart rate up, and stretch all at the same time! Do them on a level surface for a total of about five minutes before you begin your workout. You will notice that with time the exercises will become easier and they will help improve your coordination, flexibility, and balance. High-Knee Walking and Trunk Rotations are some good ones to try!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Many Calories Do You Burn When You Run a Mile? Try this Simple Calculator to Find Out!

Want to know how many calories you burn when you run a mile? Or 2 miles? Or maybe even 10? You can use the simple calculator below to find out! Enter your weight and the number of miles you ran (or plan to complete), and then hit calculate!

Because this calculator doesn't account for age, gender, and other factors, it's important to note that this tool only produces a general estimate.


Your
Weight
# of
Miles
Calories
Burned
Comment from Keebs Fitness

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Advice for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Every January, with the dawning of another year, the annual New Year's resolution becomes one of those good ideas that never seems to work out as intended. Many people still approach the year's start with a laundry list of do's and don'ts that they hope can make a change in their lives.

What you're doing whenever you're changing habits is replacing one set of memories with another. That's a really important piece of it. When you're thinking about habit change and making New Year's resolutions, the most difficult New Year's resolutions for people to keep are usually the ones where they are trying to stop doing something.

Stopping an action means trying to take memories that you have and replacing them with nothing. People say they're going to eat less or they're going to stop smoking or they're going to stop drinking. One of the reasons it's hard to do that is now you're replacing this behavior with no behavior. So what you need to do is replace a habit with some other behavior.

Come up with an alternate behavior any time you want to do what you hope to stop. If you are trying to give up ice cream, for example, switch to frozen yogurt or a healthier food item when you would normally endulge. In situations where you can't come up with a behavior to replace the old one, find something that competes with it. For example, if you want to quit smoking, adopt the goal to run a 5K race. It is hard to remain a smoker if you are trying to train for a road race.

Good luck with your resolutions this year, and please don't hesitate to email Keeb Fitness for more advice.