Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Posts Tagged ‘exercise

Increase Your Walking Speed to Burn More Calories

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Walking is a great way to burn calories and reduce stress. You can find opportunities to walk at work, school or while running errands. Practically everyone knows the benefits of walking and it is what most people can do at any fitness level.

The problem with walking is that it is very time consuming and the calorie burn-rate is relatively low compared to other activities. Walking alone can help you lose weight but it’s going to take a lot of walking to get you the results you are looking for.

I walk every chance I get. When I’m at work, I will walk the length of the building every time I get up to use the rest room. When I park my car in the morning, I park far away from the door. I’ve done this for so long, I don’t even think about it anymore – it’s just what I do.

One thing I’ve noticed whenever I’m out walking is that most people walk really slow. I know I walk faster than most people, but when I’m behind someone  I can’t pass, I feel like I”m walking in slow motion. When I walk with someone, I try to walk slower than I usually do, but I still get requests to slow down or even take a break.

I understand that people often take walks to relax, but I believe a fast walk can be just as relaxing, if not more so, than a slow saunter.

I suggest making a conscious effort to increase your walking speed. I developed a fast walking speed by deciding to walk as fast as I can whenever I can. Don’t worry about it looking weird because people will just assume you are in a rush to get somewhere or that you are exercising.

Every time you go for a walk, even to use the rest room or to get a glass of water, walk faster than your usual pace. Imagine you are late for an appointment and go at that pace (if you still saunter when you need to get somewhere fast, I can’t help you).

If you have access to a treadmill, increase the speed while continuing to walk. Keep increasing it until you feel forced into a jog. Walk as fast as you can for a minute and then go back to normal walking speed for a minute. Repeat. If you do this right, it is going to hurt in the hips and maybe the glutes. Don’t overdo it – ten repetitions should be enough.

The great thing about doing this on a treadmill is that you can track your progress. You will see your walking speed increase over time. The speed that was your usual pace will seem a slow crawl.

I also suggest having a pedometer on you at all times. When you go for a walk, track how many steps you took and try to increase the number in the same time period. If you can take a couple hundred more steps during that 5 minute walk that’s more calories you are burning – not to mention the added cardiovascular benefits.

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

May 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Fitness

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Dealing with Disadvantages

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When it comes fitness, there is no level playing field. Below are some disadvantages that people may have when trying to adopt a healthy and fit lifestyle:

  • Genetic predisposition to gaining weight
  • Lack of financial resources
  • Lack of social (family/friends) support
  • Don’t have fit friends to act as mentors
  • Demanding job/career
  • Need to care for children

If you have any of those disadvantages you have my sympathy but you don’t have approval to give up. Even if all the forces of the universe are working against you, you will still be better off doing what you can than simply accepting the cards life has dealt you.

I currently have disadvantages on that list. At some points in my life, I’ve had all of them.

I come from a large family, 5 brothers and 4 sisters, and by “large”, I mean both in terms of the number of siblings and the average size of each member. All my brothers and sisters are overweight and all have type-2 diabetes including my father and my mother passed away due to complications related to diabetes.

Based on my genetic background, I should be overweight. If I didn’t watch what I eat and get regular exercise, I would most likely have type-2 diabetes. My knowledge of my disadvantage pushes me to work harder rather than give up.

As a computer programmer, I have to work even harder to compensate for a very sedentary schedule. It would be natural for me to sit at my PC for 12 hours or more, but I consciously make the effort to incorporate regular intervals of physical activity.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was telling me all the reasons why she was overweight. At one point, I jumped in and said, “So what are planning to do about it?”.  She looked confused at my question. I surmised that she felt she was exempt from living a healthy lifestyle due to her special conditions.

When I give advice, I generally tell people that they need to exercise for an average of an hour per day. When somebody tells me they have a disadvantage, I tell them, “I understand. For you, make it two hours per day.”

My point is that with disadvantages, some people may never have that lean fitness model physique but that shouldn’t prevent them from being the best they can be given the circumstances.

A year ago, I started coaching  a middle aged women who was obese at the time. I was attempting to get her to commit to exercising on a daily basis. She made a valiant attempt but the conditions in her life at the time made it next to impossible to workout for the 30 minutes I recommended she start with.

I then suggested that she exercise for 5 minutes per day, every day, but I made sure she was committed to doing it regardless of whatever else came up. She thought I was joking at first- anyone can exercise for five minutes – but she agreed.

From that point on, five minutes was the least amount of exercise she did on a daily basis, but most often she would do more. Once she got on the treadmill to do her five minutes, it was easy for her to choose to do an 10, 30 or 60 minutes if she had the time to do so. When she didn’t have time to do more, doing the 5 minutes still gave her a feeling of accomplishment. She was meeting the commitment she made to herself.

It’s been six months and she has lost over 30 pounds. She’s also starting to make progress with weight training which was something she refused to try when she started. Once she saw the results of her efforts she was eager to see how far she could go with her new lifestyle.

Except in extreme cases, established fitness habits are far more powerful than any disadvantage a person may face. In the same way a trickle of water, over time, can carve through solid rock, habit can break through any obstacle on the road to fitness.

If you don’t think you can do something due to a conflict or condition in your life, try to focus on building a habit regardless of how small a change that habit may be. Start to track your calories and exercise even if you don’t believe you can change what you eat or do.

Whatever your disadvantages are, if you work on making the smallest achievable changes, you’ll find that overtime you are greater than whatever challenges you face.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

May 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Fitness, Life, Self Improvement

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We Were Designed To Be Physical Beings

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Whether it was evolution or intelligent design, we were designed to meet the physical challenges of the natural world. The environment would push us to grow strong and be able to endure harsh conditions.

In the name of progress, we’ve become removed from the natural conditions that help shape us. The artificial environment we’ve created that compels us to avoid physical activity and exertion is incompatible with our design. As a result we all are at risk of poor health and unhappiness.

In the same way we created an artificial environment, we’ve also created treatments to keep us alive and functioning. Heart disease is no longer a definite death sentence. Diabetes is now treated so the afflicted can continue to live even though they must endure are difficult at best.

Most of the population is unaware that modern living conditions have such a disastrous effect on us as individuals and as a society. They may consider their sedentary desk jobs preferable to physically demanding work. They are unaware that they have a need for physical challenges. They may sense that something is missing from their lives but without knowing what that is, they may seek comfort from drugs or alcohol. At best, they may come to depend on the mind-numbing practice of watching TV – who can blame them.

Some find an effective way to simulate the conditions that we humans thrive in. They pursue activities such as weight training, running, biking or do something with a more direct link to the natural environment like mountain climbing, surfing or skiing. Whatever it is, they’ve figured out that they need physical challenges to be the type of being they were meant to be.

I’ve lived both the sedentary lifestyle and the physically challenging lifestyle and it became obvious to me that the life of comfort and ease is a cage that we must avoid. Down that road lies stress, unhappiness and an endless yearning for something more out of life.

While some of us have found a way to work around the conditions we live in, it’s not easy. Our work places and schools are not designed to allow for physical activity. Yesterday as I went for a walk about the building where I work, I had to cut across lawns, walk on the street and avoid traffic. The designers of the building obviously intended employees to only walk from the car to the cubical. It would have been simple for them to add a path around the building but I imagine it didn’t even cross their minds.

We can do better. Individuals can choose to seek out physical challenges, but those that do are the lucky ones who were somehow guided down that path. Most people will not be that fortunate. Society has many labels for people who seek physical fitness : runners, weight lifters, fitness nuts, gym rat, surfer and so on. For myself, I’ve heard the term fitness nut applied to me. I’m not a “fitness nut”, I’m a human being doing what a human being is meant to do.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

April 3, 2014 at 11:52 am

Obvious Tips About Fitness

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If I read another fitness article telling me to drink water to help lose weight and get fit, I’m going to scream. We get it already – drink plenty of water.

Do you ever get the feeling that there are a limited number of fitness articles that could be written and writers are just putting their spin on the same things we’ve all heard before (myself included)? There may be some people out there that still don’t know the basics, but I’d estimate that about 98% of people interested in fitness already know what they need. I also believe the fitness writers know that we know what advice they are going to provide.

Despite how repetitive it is to get the same techniques and tips over and over again, I will still keep searching for advice. Fact is, to truly know something, we have to be told repeatedly and by several different sources. It was only last year, and only after doing some experimenting myself, that I finally started to truly believe that reducing carb intake was helpful to lose weight. I’m a born skeptic so I need plenty of evidence before I believe something.

  • Here’s a short list of obvious tips about fitness:
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get plenty of exercise – 5 times per week for 40 minutes or more
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep a food diary
  • Weight loss is 90% diet but you need exercise to help keep it off
  • Vary the intensity of your cardio workouts
  • Do strength training at least 3 times a week
  • Do both strength training and cardio
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Avoid sugar as much as you can
  • Fruit contains sugar but can still be healthy in moderate amounts
  • Don’t drink fruit juice, eat whole fruit instead
  • Processed meats are bad for you (I’m looking at you salami)
  • White bread is bad for you
  • Whole wheat bread is better than white bread but still high in carbs
  • Eat foods high in fiber
  • Don’t eat while watching a show or movie or reading a book
  • Eat less later in the day

I’m sure I’m missing quite a few but I got other stuff to do so I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Fitness Knowledge is Power

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One of the key factors to getting in shape is knowledge. It doesn’t matter what program or routine you are trying out, if you don’t acquire the right knowledge about fitness, diet and exercise you will fail. With the Internet, there is no excuse for not having access to knowledge. I just Google the term “weight loss” and the first link I saw was http://www.webmd.com/diet/. I went to that page and found a great deal of information – more than I could read in one sitting.

But don’t stop at the first site you see. Keep looking. Your journey should be a constant process of discovery. You need to find out what works best for you. The common advice will get you where you want to go but you may also find tips and tricks that speeds up the process or fits your lifestyle better.

Knowledge is power. I don’t provide a lot of detailed advice on my blog because I know how easy it is to find. I can tell you that you need to avoid sugar but if you want to learn why you can find that information easily.

Learning what exercises to do or what foods to eat is not the hard part. The most difficult aspect of getting in shape is figuring out for yourself how to keep going. What level of progression is too fast or too slow depends on the individual. I’ve pushed myself too hard on occasion and paid the price but I had to find out what my limits are. No book, video or magazine article is going to tell me how much I can take.

The acquisition of knowledge is not just about techniques and strategies. You also need to gain, what I’m going to call, motivational knowledge. Humans learn best by watching others. If we someone else doing something that helps us believe that we can do it. For this reason, I routinely look for success stories and motivation videos online. Go to YouTube and search the term “fitness motivation” and you will find thousands of videos of people working out or offering words of encouragement. Sure some of it may be over the top and extreme, but in the quest to get motivated you often have to witness the fringes of what’s possible.

The answers are out there. You just need to go find them.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

Planet Fitness Ads Are Funny But Misguided

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Planet Fitness has a number of commercials that poke fun at people who (they think) take fitness too seriously. They claim that Planet Fitness is a “Judgement Free Zone” but how can that be true if they discourage certain behaviors. They label people who act in certain ways as “lunks”. No judgement? Seriously?

One commercial  shows attractive looking women in a locker room saying how hot they look while an average looking women looks on in disgust. Sure the “hot” women sound vapid and shallow, but they are not doing anything to the ordinary looking woman so what’s her problem? Is she offended by attractive women because she’s unattractive? Didn’t she join a gym so she could eventually look like the women she despises?

Most of their commercials are making fun of fit people doing what fit people do. They will grunt when lifting weights. They will pose in front of the mirror. They will compliment their fitness friends on their appearance. They will lift things up and put them down. They will push each other to do more and push harder.

Most “lunks” I have known are the nicest people who would sooner help someone starting out than make fun of them. They may go to extremes that can be intimidating to your average couch potato but if you want to get in great shape you have to hang around people in great shape. Rather than be intimidated by their muscles and lean stomach, be inspired.

I’m in pretty good shape but I see others that are at a higher level of fitness. I may never get to their level, but it gives me something to shoot  for. Rather than hating them, I admire them.

I’m sure Planet Fitness is a good gym that caters to regular people. There may some truth to their commercials as some extreme fitness freaks can be oblivious or uncaring about how their behavior appears to other people. One lunk behavior that I’ve always hated is the act of dropping weights on the floor loudly. Unless, you’ve reserved the gym for your own use, dropping weights on the floor is dangerous and disruptive to others.

The video below shows a fitness trainer screaming at a woman. I don’t know about her, but I would love to have this guy pushing during my workouts.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 21, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Staying On Course During a Crisis

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As most people, my health and fitness journey has had its ups and downs. I would commit to eating right and exercising regularly but then would drop everything when a crisis occurred. Even regular events, such as the holidays, would distract me.

Below is a list of a few crisis situations that would derail my health and fitness goals:

  • Car accident
  • Death in the family
  • Sickness
  • Job loss
  • Looking for a new job
  • Getting a new job
  • Buying a new home

My wife and I no longer allow myself to get distracted when a major life events happen. We’ve given up on giving up. Since we made this commitment, we’ve had several life events and managed to stay on course during each one.

To accomplish this required preparation and planning.The first step was to examine our crisis behavior in the past. We looked back at particularly tragic episode in our lives and asked ourselves if putting off our diet and exercise during that time actually helped us cope. We both agreed that we would have handled the situation better if we had continued with our healthy lifestyle. In fact, the unhealthy food and lack of exercise made the situation worse and contributed to the grief and anguish we experienced.

We had given up on healthy eating and exercise when we needed it most.

So now, regardless of whatever happens, we always make time for exercise and continue to eat a healthy diet. It’s been something we’ve come to rely on during times of crisis. It makes me happy to see my wife hop on the treadmill after a tough day at work as a way to unwind rather than sit on the couch watching TV.

One thing that was tough for us to accept was that no matter what happens, our healthy lifestyle is not negotiable.

Currently, my 6 year old daughter is sick. She has a fever that’s been peaking at 104.5 and needs our constant attention. For the past 3 days, my wife and I have had to wake up several times a night to care for our daughter. Last night at 1 AM, she was crying, vomiting and her fever hit 104. It took us an hour to calm her down and get her back to sleep but I stayed awake longer just in case. Despite all that, when I woke a 6 AM, I dragged myself downstairs and ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes – not my best workout but priceless considering the circumstances.

Would it have hurt if I missed my workout this morning? Physically, there would be little harm missing a workout or two. Mentally, if I missed a workout it would have set me back. It’s a slippery slope when you choose to miss a workout.

Nobody would fault me for taking the day off when dealing with a sick child. But, it is just a fever that kids get and I’m not dealing with anything that millions of parents haven’t dealt with before. Missing a workout due to my child having  a common fever would just be an excuse.

There may be times where workouts will be missed for valid reasons. We just have to be honest without ourselves. As for diet, I can think of any reason why one would need to mess up their diet due to a life event. Having a bad day at work is not an excuse to eat more.

When you are committed to a healthy lifestyle you have to plan on what to do when life tries to knock you off course. You can’t go forward with the expectation that nothing bad (or great) will happen. You have to tell yourself that when (not if) an unplanned life event occurs you will still find time to exercise and continue to eat healthy.

 

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 3, 2014 at 11:39 am