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Posts Tagged ‘working out’

Ah, the new year is upon us, which means the gym is flooded with new year’s resolution people. Most regular gym goers hate this time of year because the gyms are crowded, but know it will be short-lived. I get inspired by more people trying to become healthier.

One of the main reasons I think people quit coming to the gym is that it seems so complicated. But here’s the secret: It isn’t.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me to go with them to the gym and learn how to weight lift. I go, and the main question I get afterward is, “That’s it? That seems to simple.” Yep, it does, and it is.

So why does it seem so complicated?

  • Trainers make it that way. I’ve blogged about this before, trainers are salespeople. Their job performance at most gyms is based on how many of their clients they get to renew their training packages. So think about it, their goal is convince you that you need them, and one of their favorite ways to do this is to make things look so complicated that you couldn’t possibly do it on your own.
  • Gym regulars get bored. So they try new things. Or, they haven’t realized yet that muscle confusion is (mostly) a myth. This is one of the reasons why you see the regulars doing crazy, complicated things. But you don’t need to. After a couple of years, if you get bored, sure, go ahead, try something fancy now and then, but when you are just getting started, you don’t need to make your workouts complicated.
  • Gym regulars have different goals. Yes, professional athletes and bodybuilders do more complicated things. That’s because they have vastly different goals than most people. Unless your goal is to become one of them, you don’t need to do fancy stuff.
  • The fitness industry tries to hook you with “new” things. This isn’t necessarily bad, I like trying new classes and such. But, as someone who has been an athlete since age 4, I can tell you that “new” is actually “repackaged.” For example, High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) looks suspiciously like the old lactate training I did in high school swimming.

Recommendations for the average person and general gym-goer

Unless you are planning to become a professional athlete or fitness competitor, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Focus mostly on diet. This is, by far, more important than the gym. If you want to hire a professional, I recommend a registered dietician vs. a trainer.
  • You don’t need to do more than an hour per day at the gym, 5-6 days per week. I plan to do a whole post about this someday, but seriously, no more than an hour per day, I don’t care what the gym regulars or trainers tell you.
  • You should enjoy your cardio workouts. I personally like to learn a new skill through cardio (such as dancing, karate, etc.). I can’t stand to watch the bored people on the cardio machines at the gym. Unless you genuinely enjoy that, don’t be one of them. Find something you enjoy and…
  • Know your target heart rate and make sure you’re in it during all cardio sessions.
  • Weight training should be straight-forward and simple. There are two books I recommend (pick one, then when you get bored, go to the other) to get started:
    • Body Sculpting Bible (the link is for the women’s version, but there’s one for men too).  I used to carry this book to the gym with me everyday I was on the program. I used it so much over a couple of years that I destroyed the binding! I love that it shows pictures, and comes with a DVD to show you how to do every exercise.
    • Body for Life. Ridiculously simple weight-lifting and cardio program.
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A buffet of desserts on a cruise ship.

Cruises can be a diet killer if you aren’t careful. Photo from Flickr: KLGreenNYC

Last week, I wandered onto a cruise ship with 6 friends for a fun five-day trip to Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico. Not too long after we boarded, one of my good friends announced that she fully planned to walk off of the ship the same weight as she got on. I hadn’t thought much about it (lazy me), but I decided to join her on this mission. Both of us walked off that cruise ship without gaining any weight. In fact, she maintained her weight perfectly, I came back .2 pounds less.

We rock!!!!! Ok anyway, here’s how maintained our weight on the cruise:

Exercise

  • We both agreed that we couldn’t take the elevator and we only broke that rule once (5 flights of stairs in ridiculously high heels for formal night sounded dangerous). My legs were on fire quite a bit due to this rule.
  • I worked out four out of the five days. I did weights twice and cardio twice, each for about an hour.
  • I incorporated exercise into my excursions. I climbed up and down the Mayan Ruins, swam around for a while in a cenote, snorkeled and played volleyball on the beach, etc. I rested too, but I tried to add additional “steps” to my day.

Diet

  • My friend’s other rule was that she was just going to sample, not eat, the rich foods. So, we tried a bit of everything, but we only tried a LITTLE (like two bites) of pretty much everything rich/unhealthy.
  • We took fruit and cereal boxes with us for snacks between meals. We added our protein to keep us full by incorporating cheese and/or protein powder into our snacks.
  • I memorized when different food places closed and planned accordingly. So, for example, if my next snack was at 10 p.m., I was at the buffet line right before it closed at 9:30 p.m. to make myself a plate of fresh fruit and cheese.
  • It wasn’t long into our cruise before I started craving vegetables (I kid you not), so I started filling a salad bowl with cucumbers and carrots (not the iceberg lettuce, that stuff is worthless) and took it back to my room for snacks.
  • They also had a veggie stick snack on the free room service menu, so i ordered that about once a day.
  • A few days in, I started ordering the side of steamed vegetables as my appetizer vs. the fried whatever was on the menu that day.
  • I avoided desserts. I wasn’t perfect, but I stayed FAR FAR away from the dessert bar and I never once touched the round-the-clock ice cream station. Mostly, I’d just ask a friend if I could take ONE BITE of whatever dessert they were having and stop at that.
  • I did order the melted chocolate cake the last night and took a few bites and then asked our waiter to take it away ASAP (yes, I felt bad wasting food).
  • The day of our Mayan excursion, we weren’t going to get lunch because we were to be back by 1, but that’s still a long time, so we ordered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, put them in plastic bags we’d brought, and took them with us so we’d have a decently healthy snack.
  • I still carried protein bars with me and ate those if they were the healthiest option available.
  • I didn’t drink that much. Oh, I know, this one isn’t fun, but it gets easier when you realize one Pina Colada has over 525 calories in it.

 

What’s your best tips for staying healthy while on vacation? Here’s some more of mine:

Travel tips for hypoglycemics and healthy eaters

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