Monday, October 19, 2009

Avoid Gaining Weight Over the Holidays!

Did you know the average person will gain anywhere from 5-25 or more pounds between Halloween and New Years? Between Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, Holiday parties, Family gatherings, Hanukkah, Christmas gatherings, and New Year's parties how is anyone to survive? Not to mention most offices have treats left out during this time from either employees, employers, other businesses and marketing teams. Planning ahead of time for the holiday's is key! You can still enjoy yourself without the weight gain if you plan ahead of time. Hiring a personal trainer can really help keep you accountable and help you make a plan of attack. This time of year can be really difficult for people not to just give up till New Years. If you can't afford a personal trainer you can still do it yourself but will require greater strength and will power. Most people find it hard to find time to exercise and the holidays can make it worse. This is a very busy time for people so exercise is usually put on hold. Here are a few things that can help you avoid the average fate:

Plan and Prepare! Get a calendar and map out your typical parties, gatherings, holiday dinners, office parties and any other events you know you will be going to. Then pencil in any possible last minute parties that may happen. If possible try to find out what will be served at all of these events. You don't have to deprive yourself but don't go overboard as well. Allow yourself a small plate of food, trying to make at least half the items healthy choices. Save room for dessert if you know you will not be able to resist. (like me) Use a dessert size plate and take a small piece of your dessert of choice. If there are many desserts then see if you can take a spoonful of each one but no more than what will fit on that plate. If alcohol is served and you must have some then choose a glass of red wine or light beer. No alcohol is best as it can really add up in calories. Another great idea is to choose which of your favorites you will have at each event. For example, if you know your mom's family gathering is making your favorite macaroni and cheese, then that is what you will splurge on for that party. Don't have dessert, instead have dessert at another party you know will have good desserts.

NEVER go to any of these events hungry. Not eating lunch so you can splurge at the party can really backfire. Since you will be starving when you get there you may have 3 times as much as you would have had and consumed more calories than if you had eaten lunch. A good trick I like to do is about 30 minutes before I get to the party I like to make myself a really big salad consisting of spinach leaves, cucumbers, mushrooms, bellpeppers, maybe a few thin slices of deli turkey and two tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette(no sugar added). Mix 2 cups of spinach with fresh veggies and add dressing in a tupperware dish then shake it up to mix the dressing throughout. This is very tasty and filling. I finish with a full glass of water, then by the time I get to the party I am ok with having a small amount of food.

It is still a good idea to keep a food diary to keep you in check. This is for you only so don't forget to write something just because you don't want to admit it. This is to help you see if you really went all out for one or two days then maybe the next few days eat really conservative. Another trick I do is that during the week I make myself avoid the goodies at work and eat really healthy during the week and maybe cut back on calories as well so I can eat a little more calories at the parties. So if I normally eat 1700 calories per day then I might cut back to 1300 calories per day during the week so then I can have extra on the weekends. Now don't go and eat an extra 2000 calories in one night (although that could be just one slice of cheesecake). But try to balance it out so you are not consuming more calories overall the total week.

Exercise is another key to help you not gain weight over the holidays. I know that this is the most difficult time of year to find the time when you have so much extra to do. This is where you really have to sit down and map out how you can get exercise in. For example if there are a few nights that you have must watch TV nights then use those times to exercise as well. Get some equipment like some free weights, stability ball and resistance bands and you can get a great workout while watching TV. Also if you already have a treadmill or elliptical then you can use those as well while you watch TV. There are other ways of getting some extra exercise in like parking at the end of the parking lot so you will walk further to get to the store, taking stairs instead of elevator and walking on your lunch breaks. With some of those just make sure you are in a safe environment. Depending on your job you should be able to take some time at your desk to exercise. Either bring a stability ball to sit on instead of a chair and/or use some resistance bands. At least a few times a day do a few minutes of resistance band exericses.

If you already go to the gym or have a personal trainer then try to fit those in at a different time if you are going to be busy shopping or entertaining. It's just 8 weeks so if you need to switch to early morning before work or a lunchtime session then really try to make that work out. Just keep telling yourself, it's just 8 weeks.

Some people already need to lose weight so they will say why start it now when it is too hard and then I'll start my New Years resolution to lose weight. Why do you want to gain more weight to make it more difficult to lose later on? You can start now, avoid the gain and you could lose some weight before the new years, then by the time new years come around you will be in better shape and able to work harder to lose the weight more quickly.

You can still enjoy the holidays, eat the good stuff, avoid the weight gain and lose weight. I know for some of you this seems impossible but I promise you it is not. I don't have the skinny gene. I gain weight if I hang out to long in the bakery (ok, if I eat a lot from the bakery). I have learned how to enjoy the holidays without feeling deprived and the key is proper planning and preparing both physically and emotionally. You will actually feel good about yourself after the holidays where most other people are sad and feel horrible with their weight gain.

So let's plan! Prepare! Take Action! I know you can do it! If you can't do it on your own then there are people that can help. Plus it is a slow time for personal trainers so ask for a holiday discount during the 8 weeks of holidays. I'm sure they will oblige. So go on, have a very happy holidays without the guilt, bloating and weight gain. Good Luck! Email me or post comments with questions, I'd be happy to help!

Monday, October 5, 2009

To strength train or not to strength train?

If you want to maximize your weight loss then you should incorporate strength training. Losing weight without strength training can result in muscle loss, so you may lose weight but losing muscle will decrease your overall metabolism which can be the reason you may gain the weight back later on. Not only will increasing your muscle mass increase your metabolism but will help improve your overall health and fitness level. Many women don’t want to train with weights because they are afraid of getting bulky or looking masculine. This is a myth that prevents many women from reaching their weight loss goals. Not only does strength training increase metabolism but it also helps prevent osteoporosis. In order for women to look masculine or develop large, bulky muscles they would have to workout for hours each day along with training with very heavy weights.

For maximum benefits one should exercise 3 times per week for about an hour which should include: warm up and cool down, flexibility training, aerobic and strength training. If you are new to exercise or haven’t been successful with it then check with your doctor before starting a program. Once approved for exercise there are some small steps you can do to get started:

• If you always take the elevator, try the stairs if it is safe to do so, also bring your cell phone in case of emergency.
• If you try to park next to the door of wherever you're going, park farther away and walk in the daylight hours.
• If your habit is to eat at your desk, take a 10- to 20-minute walk first, then have your lunch (or take a walk after you eat).
• Instead of watching TV all day Saturday and Sunday, plan active weekends. Go to the park, take a walking tour, ride your bike, or row a boat. Go play with your kids!

Having a qualified, certified personal trainer can help men and women achieve their personal fitness goals, whether it is to lose weight having lean, toned muscles or build big strong muscles for power and greater strength. Especially if you have never exercised before personal trainers can customize and plan to ensure you meet your goals in a safe and effective manner along with holding you accountable and yet being encouraging at the same time. Also if you’ve exercised before and failed then having a personal trainer can show you how to do it in order to succeed.

Learning what your heart rate should be during exercise and having a heart rate monitor can also help you achieve your goals. If you are not getting your heart rate up high enough within a safe range then you will not be burning enough calories. A personal trainer can help you determine your targeted heart rate and monitor that you are staying within that targeted heart rate range.

Losing weight too quickly or losing muscle because you are not strength training will lower your metabolism and you will hit that plateau where you stop losing weight. Many studies show that physical activity is the best predictor of whether one will maintain their weight loss. Sometimes people hit plateaus for other reasons such as doing the same routine over and over again. Your body adapts to its surroundings and if it gets used to the same routine it will start to use less energy to do these same routines so it is best to switch routines regularly and interval training has also shown success in breaking the plateaus.

Remember that when eating healthier and exercising to lose weight that you will need to continue this to maintain your weight loss. Many people gain the weight back because they feel that when they lose the weight then they are done with diet and exercise. To lose weight and keep it off then you must first go in knowing that what you do to lose weight needs to be seen as lifelong changes. So make small changes in your diet over time so you get accustomed to eating healthy. Don’t think of it as depriving yourself or torture. Make small changes slowly and over time you will get used to it but you can still have your favorites just not as much and not nearly as often. Slowly increase your exercise and understand that you will need to do this for the rest of your life. This will not only help you to lose weight, help you keep the weight off but also help prevent health problems later on such as heart disease. As with the other things we covered earlier, a great personal trainer can help you find new ways to make small changes towards eating a healthy diet and having a great exercise regimen.