You were all set to go run, walk, hike or ride your bike, but the weather is not cooperating. It’s pouring rain outside, and your workout plan for the day is getting a bit soggy. You can’t change the weather, but you can adapt your workout plan.
As with anything in life, it’s always smart to have a back up plan. A little water falling from the sky is not an excuse to put up your sneakers and lose an entire day. Obvious choices for working out on a rainy day include going out in rain gear or heading to the gym, but if those aren’t possible options for you, give the following activities a shot.
At Home Exercises
Enjoy your favorite TV shows, but exercise during the commercial breaks. Over the course of an hour, you will watch 16 to 24 minutes of advertisements. Rather than fast-forwarding through them with the help of your DVR/TIVO, use that time to exercise in the dry comfort of your living room. You can knock out situps, pushups, squats, tricep dips, hip raises, leg raises, jumping jacks, burpees, running in place, planks, etc. without any fancy gym equipment.
If you have a Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect you can challenge friends and family to a variety of sports and dance games. A little healthy competition with the help of today’s technology is sure to make you forget about the weather outside. Set up some reasonable stakes, such as the loser having to walk the dog in the rain.
If you live in a multi-level or high-rise building, now is the time to check out the stairwell. Grab your iPod, turn on your workout mix, and set your watch for at least twenty minutes. Stairs are a great way to get your heart rate up without stepping foot outside.
Video stores, and even some cable plans, offer exercise videos in addition to movies and games. The short-term commitment means you can swap them out regularly without actually purchasing any. You can actually workout with Jillian Michael’s or Bob Harper in the comfort of your own living room.
Do some deep cleaning. Vacuuming, dusting, rearranging furniture and other household chores all burn calories. Turn on some upbeat music and you’ll be shining floors, tubs and countertops at the same time you’re toning up to the beat.
If you’re into team sports, most gyms offer indoor space and equipment rental for basketball, racquetball and volleyball.
A rainy day is also the perfect time to check out a climbing gym, latin dance club or roller skating rink with friends. Learning a new skill makes working out fun, and it’s a great way to meet new, like-minded people. Even bowling burns calories.
Your friends are probably looking for rainy day activities, too, so get everyone together and make a day of it.
Although shopping and culture are not typically synonymous with exercise, malls and museums offer lots of space to walk. When it’s raining outside, take in a new exhibit or do some window shopping. The scenery, sales and people watching will make you forget you’re burning calories. Just make sure to keep up a good pace.
Tennis Shoes vs. the Blues
Rain may refresh nature, but it has a tendency to give people the blues. To the contrary, exercise releases feel-good endorphins. Pick an indoor activity, put on your tennis shoes and chase the clouds away.
Don’t let a little rain get you down and ruin your plans. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to add something fun to your workout repertoire and explore the great indoors.
To really travel well in Europe, you need to be physically fit.
I don’t mean you need to look great in a bikini (although that is a bonus of being fit); I mean you need to be able to manage the physical demands you might encounter on your trip. This ain’t Cabo.
Even if you’re staying at a resort along the Mediterranean, there will likely be stairs you have to take to get to the sun deck.
You’ve invested the money and blocked off the time for your dream vacation; shouldn’t you prepare your body, too?
With proper preparation and a bit of training beforehand, you can set yourself up for success and truly enjoy your “trip of a lifetime.”
Don’t pack a bag you can’t carry.
We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, but there are multiple reasons to pack lightly, and you’ll be so glad you did. You will want to buy things while you’re traveling, and you’ll need room to include them and the added weight in your bag for flying. If you reach your destination and don’t have something you need/want, all the more reason to go buy something new and have an instant souvenir you’ll actually end up using.
Also, no matter how buff your travel partner is, at some point you will need to move your bag without assistance. There are many instances when you may find yourself dashing for a train or bus while managing your luggage, and, along the way, you could encounter stairs. Or, you might need to quickly hoist your bag into/onto your mode of transportation.
Speaking of stairs…
Whether you have a driver to help reduce the amount of walking you do, take every elevator you find, or use public transportation everywhere, there will still be times when the only way to reach something you want to see/do is to take hundreds of stairs. Whereas the United States requires handicap access almost everywhere, Europe does not. Also, going back to the part about packing lightly, there will be many times when your only option is to carry your bag up/down stairs (hello, Venice and Positano).
It’s easier to enjoy vacation when you aren’t exhausted or in pain.
Europeans walk… a lot. It’s great, and it’s why they aren’t all overweight. Having said that, if you’re not used to walking, your vacation could start to feel more like a grueling training session than a relaxing getaway.
People underestimate how hard a full day of walking can be. After all, it’s only walking, right?! If your usual “daily walk” is only the distance from your office to your car, your body is not properly prepared to tackle a European vacation.
Consider this: You might cover two miles weaving through the Vatican Museum before you’re able to enter the Sistine Chapel. If you’re not in shape, your feet and your joints will be screaming at you as you try to enjoy the magnificent ceiling.
You’re gonna want to eat… a lot.
If none of what I’ve said thus far motivates you to get fit for your next adventure, please hear my final plea: Exercise just so you don’t fit the “obese American” stereotype.
Here’s a ten minute squat-treadmill sequence that’s a great addition to any workout.
The purpose of this sequence is to get your heart rate up while toning and tightening your legs and butt.
You might feel some eyes on you when you start this sequence, but trust me, people are only checking you out because you look hardcore and they’re admiring your booty-kickin moves!
10-Minute Squat-Treadmill Sequence
- Hop on a treadmill and turn it up to a good running pace. You shouldn’t be sprinting, but you shoudn’t be lolly-gagging around either. I suggest a speed somewhere between 6.5-8.0 depending on your level of fitness. If you are new to running, start at 5.5 or 6.0. You’re only running for one minute at a time, so no excuses!
- Start counting your time once you’ve reached your running pace.
- Go for one minute, hit pause, then hop off and stand at the end of the treadmill so that your back is to it.
- With your feet shoulder width apart, perform ten squats so that your butt taps the treadmill each time – like you were going to sit down and take a break, but instead you realize you can’t sit down because you’re in the middle of a calorie-burning, muscle-building workout, so you hop back up before you actually sit.
- Make sure your feet are far enough away from the treadmill that your knees don’t extend out over your toes when you squat.
- Bring your arms forward each time, or put your hands behind your head with your elbows out so you’re doing fast prisoner squats.
- Once you’ve completed ten squats, turn around and hop back on the treadmill for another minute of running.
- Continue alternating the 1 minute run with the ten squats for a total of ten times. At the end of about ten and a half minutes you should have completed at least one mile of running, and one hundred squats.
1 min run – 10 squats X 10 = 10 minutes of running and 100 squats
The reason we don’t hold onto the treadmill with our feet on the sides and squat while still on it is so we don’t accidentally rely on our arms for assistance.
If you want to get creative, you can keep going and do another set with 1 minute of running followed by 10 push-ups (tricep style or regular) off the end of the treadmill, and then a set where you follow the running with planks with your feet elevated on the end of the treadmill, or ten sit-ups. At the end of that you’d have done at least 3 miles, 100 squats, 100 push-ups, and 10 planks/100 sit-ups. Try it out and make it your own!
Perhaps it’s what you’re NOT eating that’s making you fat.
Eating healthy isn’t all about cutting things out of your diet, eating low-fat, low-carb, low-sodium, etc.
Your body needs a variety of foods so it can perform all its functions – including regulating fat absorption. Eating a wide variety of foods helps your body to use what it needs and discard what it doesn’t need.
The right food combinations can help your digestive system absorb vitamins, minerals, good fat, and nutrients, and turn waste into bulk to move it on out.
You probably already know that having some olive oil or avocado with your salads and veggies helps your body to absorb all of the good stuff the other ingredients, but did you know that certain foods can help your body absorb less fat?
Your body knows it doesn’t need a ton of fat. We’ve got central heating if we need it, and food is always available, so we don’t really need extra insulation or large energy/fat stores like our caveman cousins did back in the day.
For those of you scanning to find the part where I get to the foods you can eat to help reduce fat absorption, I’m getting there; however, first I have to say that none of this gives you a license to go eat a ton of crap. Nothing is an easy fix-all like that, so don’t go crazy. Also, supplements won’t have the same effect as eating the right foods. In general, avoid taking pills and go straight to the source to achieve optimal health.
Without further ado, here’s a list of foods that have been shown to lower fat absorption.
- Calcium: Men’s Health reports that “dieters with the highest calcium intake from dairy foods lost 60% more weight than those with the lowest.” It’s not all about milk and cheese either; canned beans, peas and fish, yogurt, most dark greens, almonds and oranges have a high amount of calcium, too. Maybe have a glass of skim milk with your steak instead of wine… maybe.
- Apples: ShapeFit.com reports that the pectin in apples prevents your body from absorbing large amounts of fat. In addition, apples are high in fiber which helps fill you up and move waste out of your body.
- Soy: ShapeFit.com also lists soy as a fat absorption blocker because of lecithin, a nutrient that breaks down fat stores. Throw some soy nuts on your salad for a little added crunch, or use soy protein powder or milk in your smoothies.
- Sea kelp / Seaweed: Sea kelp has a natural, soluble fiber called alginate that helps halt digestion of fat. Try some seaweed salad next time you’re out for sushi.
- Unrefined whole grains: The fiber helps you excrete more fat, rather than storing or absorbing it.
The common denominator in most of these foods is fiber. Get your daily fiber intake, and get it naturally.
Also, even if you don’t believe in “fat blockers,” all of these are really healthy options for many other reasons, so there’s no reason not to give them a shot.
I like a little nightcap of 1/2 skim milk and 1/2 vanilla soy milk right before bedtime. Who knew a simple end of day indulgence could make a difference? I would never fully count on these foods to do all the work for me, but it can’t hurt to work them in a little more.
(Could I look any goofier in the still shot from the video? Ha!)
Exercises covered in this video:
- Basic Plank
- Side Plank
- Side Plank with dumbbell
- Side Plank with hip-drop / crunch
- Side Plank with leg raised
- Up-Downs in basic plank position
- 10-10-10 = 10 seconds on one side, 10 seconds in the middle, 10 seconds on the other side, repeat
- Stirring the pot – basic plank with swiss ball rotation
- Swiss ball pike – feet on swiss ball
There’s a new program at some military gyms called Spouse Fit. The military requires active duty servicemen and women to take fitness tests frequently, so Spouse Fit is specifically targeting the other half of the family. It’s great to see so many new faces hitting the gym.
The new program has me thinking about fitness within a marriage. Ideally, your spouse will love you no matter what size you are, but to what degree should you test that?
My feelings are that my husband deserves a wife who takes pride in her health and her appearance (this goes both ways, of course) for multiple reasons.
Not only does a healthy lifestyle make me feel more confident, it also increases the likelihood that I’ll get to spend a long forever with my husband. As if confidence, appearance and a long life with my husband weren’t enough, our habits will also affect our future children.
Yes, we all grow and change, and it’s unrealistic to think our bodies will always be in perfect shape, but it is rude to your spouse to “let yourself go.” I’m not specifically targeting women. Both spouses should want to look nice for each other.
Your health affects everyone in your family. It is disrespectful to yourself, your marriage and your children to not take proper care of yourself.
It’s not about having the perfect body; it’s about realizing that this is the only shot you get to be the best version of yourself. Be the spouse your wife/husband deserves, and the parent your child deserves.
Almost every person who asks me about fitness for herself/himself also asks me about his/her spouse’s health and fitness. Weight is a touchy subject, and when one person is working hard to make a change, they want (and need) for it to be a family affair. Encouragement and participation are great ways for everyone to come together and truly subscribe to a healthier lifestyle.
Everyone talks about wanting to get into better shape, but talking only exercises your jaw. How about this? If you want to walk the walk, going for a walk is actually a great way to start. Take care of yourself. You and your family deserve for you to feel great.
Do you wear your clothes inside out so the tag shows? Hopefully not; however, if the smaller size fits, you buy it in every color, right?
Have you ever been guilty of any of the following?
- Buying an article of clothing simply because it fit in a smaller size than you normally wear.
- Not buying an article of clothing because it fit in a larger size than you normally wear.
- Buying a smaller size in hopes that it would fit after you lost some weight.
- Buying a smaller size, even though it wasn’t as comfortable on as a size up, just so you could continue to claim it as “your size.”
Why do we torture ourselves by purchasing the smallest size we can fit into only to worry that we will only be able to wear it on our best (skinniest) days?
Here’s the deal: Wearing the wrong size makes you look bigger than you actually are.
The only thing other people see is how your clothes fit you. You’re the only one who knows what size you’re wearing. Others won’t know you’re wearing a smaller size than normal, but they will see if you have a muffin top spilling over the waistline of your pants, or if your top is straining at the buttons.
If your clothes are too tight, it doesn’t matter that you were able to squeeze into them. Ill-fitting clothes cheapen your appearance. Wearing the appropriate size, even if it’s a size up from what you would like to wear, will actually make you look smaller.
It may make you feel good to buy a size 4 or know that what you’re wearing is smaller than you normally wear, but – being intentionally redundant – you’re the only one who knows that.
Don’t rush out and buy clothes that are way too big, though. If they don’t fit your shape you may as well be wearing a potato sack.
Sizes vary by brand, so you’re not going to wear the same size across the board. Always try on clothes before you buy them.
A visit to a good tailor can make a huge, inexpensive difference in your wardrobe. Let out a little on one seam; take in a little on another, and voila!
Another tip is to dress from the inside-out. What I mean by that is you have to start with the right undergarments. There is no point investing in nice clothes if you’re not going to wear something nice and appropriate underneath them.
If your bra doesn’t fit you well or fit well under your outfit, you can ruin the entire effect. Your bra straps should not cut in and give you unnecessary fat rolls, and your chest should be adequately supported. A good bra will lift your breasts off of your rib cage, giving the appearance of a longer, slimmer torso.
The same goes for your underwear. There are enough options and contraptions out there now that there is no excuse for elastic cutting in, panty lines, etc.
Our bodies are changing all the time. Whether you need tummy support, a butt lift, thigh smoothing, invisible straps, etc., there is a piece of lingerie developed just for you.
A healthy diet and regular exercise will help you look and feel better, and those in conjunction with a nice wardrobe will no doubt make you look your best. However, whether you adhere to a specific diet and exercise regimen or not, any figure looks good in clothes that fit well.
Remember that your clothing size is not your identifier. I only know people by their name, and no one has ever called me by a number off my tag. The person who invented clothing sizes wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings or boost someone else’s.
Love yourself enough to take pride in your overall appearance. The way you look and feel in your clothes makes a difference in how confident you appear, and confidence is your best accessory.
Most people think the biceps are the largest muscles in the arm. This is likely because of all the pictures of people flexing them. In reality, the largest muscle group in your arms is your triceps. So, if you want to cover the most ground in reshaping your arms, you need to spend adequate time toning the backs of your guns.
Your triceps make up the back of your arm; so, biceps in front, shoulders on top, triceps in back and wrapping to the side.
Whenever you’re isolating a specific muscle/muscle group, it helps to know where it is and what its function is. During your exercises, think about the muscles you are using and focus your energy on the targeted area.
The main function of the triceps is to extend your arm at the elbow. Your triceps are the power behind a lot of pushing movements. The triceps get their name from having three heads.
Chances are, if you don’t like your arms, you’ve been neglecting your triceps.
To strengthen and tone any of your muscles, it’s smart to rotate a handful of exercises. Just as you have to be able to adapt when life doesn’t come at you in exactly the same way all the time, your muscles won’t be at their best if you do the same motion over and over again.
I have four favorite tricep exercises that I rotate. Occasionally, I’ll do an arm blast workout and perform all of them on the same day, but, for the most part, I rotate them.
Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or bench and hold the front edge of the seat on both sides of your body. Your knuckles should be facing forward, not turned to the sides. Move your body forward off the seat and lower yourself below it until your arms form a 90-degree angle. Then, push yourself back up to the starting position. You can make this move harder by extending your legs out farther in front of you, and progress it farther by putting your feet up on another bench and adding weight to your lower core.
Start with 3 sets of 10, work up to 3 sets of 15, then try out one of the mentioned progressions.
It’s not a good sign when your country makes an annual obesity map, but it’s even worse when your state keeps making it into the top ten on that map.
Mississippi has taken 1st place for being the fattest state for the past five years. (And don’t any of you Alabamians go getting cocky about beating your neighbor. You consistently take a close 2nd.)
I’m not out to beat up on Mississippi. I have family there, so this is very concerning to me. They just happen to be ranked such that they became my example for pointing out the strong correlation between lack of education, poverty, and obesity.
Lack of education and low-income are in fact really good excuses for being obese. They are, truly, huge obstacles to overcome – unlike most of the excuses I hear all the time.
In poorer states, it is more likely that all the adults in a household will have to work to make ends meet, and that doesn’t leave much time to devote to cooking healthy meals or exercising.
The more you know about fitness, nutrition, and health in general, the easier it is to make wise choices and implement good practices into your life. The more money you make, the more you’re able to afford fresh, organic, unprocessed food and a gym membership.
People talk about obesity being hereditary, and there is a grain of truth to that, but it’s not all genetics. Good health requires adherence to a certain lifestyle. Every new generation learns from previous generations, and families don’t tend to show drastic advancements or improvements in education, health or income from one to the next. If you’ve never experienced a lifestyle that includes good nutrition and an exercise plan, you don’t know how to live that kind of lifestyle.
There are so many diet and exercise myths out there for people to fall victim to, and you’re less likely to see through them if your education and upbringing didn’t teach you the basics.
It’s not politically correct to say it, but people who appear fit and healthy are also more likely to land better, higher-paying jobs. Say what you want, but appearance makes a big difference in how we are perceived.
How can you stop the cycle? In Mississippi, former pro footballer, Paul Lacoste, is trying to tackle it with a 12-week fitness program. He’s even encouraged politicians to get in on the action in hopes that they will feel moved to make change an easier option for all the people of Mississippi. Already, the positive effects of stress reduction seem to be helping the parties get along better.
My favorite quote is from Democratic State Rep. Steve Holland:
“We feel good, I’m even loving Republicans right now,” said Holland. “When you get together at 5 a.m. to work out with other lawmakers, it has this phenomenal way of permeating over at the 8 a.m. meeting and bringing both sides together…”
You don’t have to be a politician, or even be part of a program or a gym to make a difference. Going for a walk, run, hike, bicycle ride, etc. can help you bond as a family, reduce your waistline, and improve your bottom line.
Obesity is expensive. The larger you are, the more you need of everything (food, clothes, prescriptions, overall healthcare). A healthier family costs less to maintain.
As Lacoste is already proving, it only takes one person and a little initiative to make a pretty big change. You could be the person that breaks the pattern for future generations of your family.
I want to make a difference, too. I’m not going to knock my mom’s home state around and not offer help to people who want to make a difference.
If you have any questions in regards to health and fitness, and they fall within my scope of practice as a personal trainer, I will gladly answer them. Comment on this article with your question, and I promise I will reply.
We may show up on a map as being categorized by state, but we are all in this together as Americans, and I’m tired of being the fat country.
Sugar and salt are addictive; and, as with most things that are addictive, they’re not good for you. The more you have, the more you crave, and the harder you have to work to undo the damage.
You won’t find a surgeon general’s warning on their packaging; but, if there was one, it would mention that they can both be harmful to your heart and your waistline.
What’s worse? They’re both very sneaky about getting into your food without you realizing.
While eating dinner at home the other night, my husband reached for our favorite creole seasoning. I mentioned the high salt content to him since he tends to overpour, and he said, “Oh well, it should be okay since I haven’t had any other salt today.” He thought he hadn’t had salt that day because he hadn’t used a salt shaker. In his defense, this is a common misperception.
Where are they hiding?
- Check the labels of pre-packaged foods, sauces, seasoning blends, dressings, marinades, bottled/canned beverages, etc. and you’ll quickly understand why your body is hanging on to unwanted pounds and water-weight.
- I love soy sauce, ketchup, hot sauce and Worcestershire, but I use to use them as freely as if they were made up of air or water. Now I know better, and I’ve also learned that a little goes a long way. Now I understand why ketchup packets are so tiny.
- Bread, cereal, snack foods, dried fruit, nuts, jerky, olives, pickles, hot dogs, baked beans, etc. are full of unnecessary sugar and salt, and energy and athletic replenishment drinks are just as guilty.
What you can do to get off sugar and salt?
- The less sugar and salt you have, the less of them you’ll want, and both addictions are much easier to kick than something like smoking.
- Cook at home, and pay attention to everything you add. Try out different herbs, spices, freshly squeezed citrus juices or even alcohol to enhance the flavor of your food without salt, and make sure your canned goods are low sodium or say ‘no salt added’ on the label.
- Taste your food and think about all the natural flavors of what you’re eating before you add anything to it. Here in Italy, salt isn’t commonly on the table at restaurants. Why should it be? If you’re paying a chef to cook your food, maybe you should let him/her decide how it should be seasoned. I’m not a trained chef, but I’m insulted when someone seasons the food I’ve cooked before they taste it.
- Make dessert a real treat. One night of not reaching for something sweet after dinner will make it easier the next night. It should be a treat rather than something you have to have. Try having an orange after dinner to cleanse your palate and satisfy your sweet tooth, or go brush your teeth right after your meal.
- If you’re a parent, you are in control of whether or not your child starts out with an addiction to salt and/or sugar.
How much can/should you have?
- The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine recommends that most adults get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day; the equivalent of about one teaspoon of table salt. If you are at risk of hypertension, cut that number down to no more than 1,500 milligrams.
- Nutritionally, you do not need any added sugar; especially not refined sugar. Most fruits and vegetables have natural sugars in them, and these cover all you need.
- A balanced diet of natural, “real” food covers all of your nutritional needs.
It’s not all evil.
Everything in moderation is fine. I like sugar and salt too, so I’m not saying you have to cut it out entirely to lose weight. The goal is for you to be aware, and in control, of how much you have. Knowing that they are both in most of the food you eat, even if you don’t add them yourself, will help you moderate your consumption.
If you need a nasty visual, imagine a sticky sugar substance making fat stick to you, and salt making you swell up. Got that image in your head? Doesn’t look nearly as tasty that way, does it?