How to Eat Healthy While On Vacation

Eating healthy may be a challenge at home during your regular routine. So how, you ask, am I suppose to eat healthy while on vacation out of my routines? Its not as hard as you think.

First, be prepared. Plan for your needs. Be the one to bring the raw veggie plate with a healthy dip. Or bring a fresh fruit desert.

Second, eat small portions. I for one love summer BBQs and potlucks but instead of taking heaping spoonfuls of all my favorites I just take a small bite sized portion. I can always have more if I want it but keeping it off my plate usually keeps it out of my mouth.

Third, go whole food. Look for items that are as close to their natural state as possible. The less processing foods have the better for you!

Finally, follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of your choices are healthy options the other 20 can be less than ideal. The trick is to keep this rule in action consistently over time. So don’t panic if one day is off just remember to make it up the next day.

Healthy eating starts with choices you make every meal. Don’t get discouraged and keep coming back to your goals and habits. If you can make small changes that last a lifetime you are on track to reach your goals. Just remember fitness and health are daily things and keep moving forward!

Vacation Workouts

Many of us plan for our vacation well. We know we want to workout while on our break but sometimes are at a loss as to what we can do to keep moving while getting some R&R. Here’s some ideas:

I know you might be looking for some downtime, but vacation workouts don’t have to look the same as you regular routine. Try these ideas and add activity into your vacation this summer.

1) Sign up for a class
2) Swim – Pool, the beach, snorkel, scuba dive, ski, pair sail, you get the picture.
3) Walk the main streets instead of cabbing it. Walk everywhere you can.
4) Aim to do one hour of active vacationing a day – sightseeing, walking, swimming, etc.
5) Use the hotel fitness center
6) Take a fitness vacation

The number one way to stay on track during your vacation is to schedule active things – sightseeing walking tours, skiing, hiking, scuba diving, surfing lessons, etc – there are tons of things out there to do. Push your comfort zone and get moving!

3 Things to Bring On Your Summer RoadTrip

Who doesn’t love a great road trip? As I get ready to embark on mine here are some essentials I’ll be packing.

1) Rubber Tubing – Kbands TrainingLike the K Bands in this picture. This little workout staple can create a workout anywhere and takes a smidgen of your packing space.

Have a little more room and some tree branches (or other heavy duty hangers) check out the TRX – a strap system that lets you create an intense strength training workout with your own body weight. I own a set and love’em – Fitness Anywhere

2) Good Snacks – try and aim for a solid mix of protein, carbs, and fats in the most nutrient dense foods you can. Fruit, raw veggies, beef jerky, cheese sticks can all help you stay properly fueled up. Try and skip on the processed fast foods if you can. Check out an earlier blog posting for more vacation snack ideas.

3) Good Shoes – I know its summer time and I, too have trouble finding my socks…but if you are planning to stay on workout track make sure to pack your shoes. Who knows giving up some space may be the commitment you need to stay moving.

10 Rules of Motivational Rewards

Rewards can help keep you motivated to exercise. However there are 10 rules to think about when choosing how you will reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals – which we know you will!

  1. Choose something you really want and won’t need until you reach your goal. Not a good idea to reward yourself with new running shoes when you reach X weight but you’ll need them to run the race regardless.
  2. Don’t use food, candy, or other treat. This reinforces the specialness of the unhealthy food or eating behavior.
  3. Pick something that will keep you exercising after you’ve reached your goal. A new workout outfit, shoes, a new piece of equipment, or a new class.
  4. Pamper yourself – you’ve earned it!
  5. Enlist your workout buddy in a dual reward – take a trip together, try a new class, etc. Make both of your success part of the reward but only if both of you are really motivated to get the reward
  6. Choose a realistic reward and goal. An outfit or swimsuit size and style you wore 10 years ago may not be realistic anymore. Make sure your goal fits who you are now.
  7. Set smaller goals and smaller rewards for milestones along the way. For example if you goal is to lose 50lbs which should take about 25 weeks or 6 months. This may be too far in the future to be motivating. However setting a weekly workout goal and weekly reward for making it can keep you moving forward. Add in a monthly goal, too.
  8. Make sure to give yourself the reward. I am famous for this – I’ll say I’m going to get a new outfit from the money I’m saving by not drinking a cola a day however I forget to put the money aside each day/week and when the time comes for the reward I have no money in my outfit jar. Make sure to follow through with yourself!
  9. Record your feelings in your journal. Many are motivated by intrinsic things (the way they feel inside) rather than extrinsic (things outside of themselves). If you find prizes don’t do it for you recording how well you felt after a workout, better sleeping patterns, or less stress may be just what you need to see your progress and claim your reward.
  10. Don’t cheat and on the other hand don’t be too harsh on yourself. I know this sounds contradictory however the former will derail you again and again because by cheating you are telling yourself you aren’t serious about your goal and the latter derails you by creating inflexible parameters which don’t take into account all the positive changes you’ve made and circumstances that might be out of your control, like a life change or illness you didn’t see coming.

10 Tips – How to Get Motivated to Exercise

Here are 10 tips on how to get motivated to exercise. We all could use a refresher to keep us going during these long summer days!

  1. Take before photos
  2. Find a picture of yourself when you looked like you’d like to look again – make copies & post all over the place – mirrors, fridge, microwave, car visor, closet door, nightstand, you get the idea. (Be realistic when choosing your ideal weight)
  3. Write down your goals – Pick one goal to focus on for a month, write it down and post it all over the place – see #2
  4. Get a workout buddy – see the blog post on choosing a workout buddy for ideas on choosing your best fit partner
  5. Track your progress – it helps to see how many more push-ups you can do, how much weight you can lift, how many pounds you’ve lost or gained, how many miles you logged this week, etc
  6. Create a food/exercise journal – writing things down makes you more accountable, creates an easy #5, and helps you focus your attention on you.
  7. Prizes! – pick something you really want and give it to yourself after you’ve reached your goal – see the up coming blog post on the Rules of Rewards.
  8. Hang your reward where you’ll see it everyday
  9. Tell someone about your plans – Pick a supportive person to help keep you on track.
  10. Breathe – Take a long breath when you get stressed or overwhelmed by your fitness goal – remember fitness progress is over time. Keep working at it and you will get there.

How to Get Motivated to Exercise

So many of us have great intentions to exercise but don’t do it! We are going to be exploring how to get motivated to exercise! Now that we are past the 4th and the indulgences of the holiday let’s get down to business. Exercising in the lazy days of summer is hard! Many of us want to exercise but we want to lounge in the water or sun more. So the question becomes how to get motivated to exercise.

1st – Revisit your fitness goals – Why do you want to exercise in the first place? What do you want to be different about your life?

2nd – Look at your current schedule – Schedules change with the seasons but many fail to realize that of their own. What has changed on your to-do list, time demands, and attention needs. Adjust your workouts around these new demands. It is also a good idea to begin planning for fall when your schedule is likely to change again. Don’t spend too much time on fall – just begin to consider how you might need to re-adjust.

3rd – Adjust any exercises needed – do you love to run outside but the heat prevents a good workout? Or are you a pool swimmer but can’t seem to bring yourself to stay inside on a wonderful sunny day? Find alternatives – you can come back to your favorites when the season changes.
Check on your diet – Summer is a classic time to indulge. Where can you focus your healthy eating behaviors and work on your unhealthy ones? This is not a time to beat yourself up – instead practice the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time aim for good eating behaviors.

Motivation is a combination of things and changes depending on your needs. Be considerate to yourself as you re-evaluate and re-motivate your exercise. Fitness progress is not measured in one-time shots – it is measured over time – the battle is consistency. Take comfort knowing as long as you are still exercising (even if it looks different than 6-months ago) you are still moving toward your goals.

Creating Freedom

Ahhh, 4th of July is upon us. The time to celebrate our collective freedom, and I find it fitting to celebrate personal aspects of freedom as well. We are a lucky nation. Although, some would argue freedom is relative, I think today is a fitting day to celebrate your freedom. So as you sit by the water, cabin, backyard kiddie pool raising nothing more than your glass celebrate your freedom.

As our favorite weekend for lounging progresses use this time to let go and create your own personal freedom. First, think about the goals you have been reaching for. Are there any that have become stagnant and out dated? Get rid of them – free up your focus. Are your goals really reflecting where you want to go and who you want to be? If not, lose them with the next drop of condensation as it drips off your glass. Free up your conscience. Do you feel guilty about your progress, direction, sacrifices, or another idea surrounding your personal change? In my opinion guilt is useless, so chuck it, and begin to free up your shoulders, the place many of us hold tension and guilt.

As your shoulders loosen roll them back a few times and then forward a few, follow that with some shrugs, and finally roll them up, back, and down into their natural alignment. As you do this you’ll open up your chest and free your breath. Take a deep breath. Feel your chest expand and your body respond as the oxygen penetrates your cells and you activate your relaxation response. Free up your mind and let go of all those thoughts that keep repeating in your head. Let go of worry and anxiety; just be. Today is all about just being. Relax and let go of all shoulds and coulds and free up your schedule. Feel your skin relax and rest as you free your body and allow space for all parts of you to relax in kind. Don’t worry about places you would like to change or see differently in the mirror, toss the ideal and free your expectations. Accept who you are today for all your greatness.

Freedom, it rolls off your tongue nice and even. Bask in the ease of the word and let it become your motto for the day. Do not get caught in the mind game of how difficult it is to let go of those thought patterns and pre-conceived notions, those pesky ideals of who and how you should be. Today allow yourself the pleasure of being just as you are, today, in this moment, without shoulds, coulds; have-tos. Keep the thoughts flowing through your head and make it clear they are not welcome to linger and sour your day of wonderful, sweet freedom bliss.

Good Chest Exercises

Good chest exercises must include a variety of movements for the pectoralis major. This is the large fan like muscle connected to your sternum (breast bone), ribs, clavicle (collarbone) and humerus(arm).

The basic job of the pecs are to move your arm across your body (horizontal adduction) and flex the shoulder joint (bring your hand from your side to above your head.) Good chest exercises will mimic these movement patterns helping to make you stronger in them.

You don’t need fancy equipment to create good chest exercises but you do have to overload the muscle somehow. Push-ups are one of the best chest exercises and don’t require anything but you! Use modifications as needed – remember it is better to have smaller movements with good form than big moves with bad form. See how to do a proper push-up at eHow.com.

When lifting weights the more ways you can overload the muscle in movement patterns the more you’ll be able to target specific areas of the muscle. This requires that you change the movement pattern slightly. For instance performing incline, flat, and decline bench presses will help target the same muscle but with slightly different emphasis. This creates a better defined and stronger muscle through entire range of motion. Its also a good idea to add a small squeeze at the end of the movement (end range movement emphasis) allowing you to target the inner side of the pectoralis which can be difficult to train.

When working out in the gym you will have a variety of equipment at your fingertips. It is a good idea to focus on multiple chest exercises for a solid program.

Other Good Chest Exercises Include: Push-Ups, Presses – with a Bar or Dumbbells – Incline Press, Flat Bench Press, Decline Press, Dumbbell Flies, Cable Flies – standing or using a bench depending on your cable machine), Chest Press machines, Chest Fly machine, Pec Dec machine.

SAFETY NOTE: be careful of your range of motion in all the above – especially your shoulder range of motion to keep you from injury.

Exercises for Good Health

We can’t avoid messages about better heath however many people are asking what are exercises for good health? Just being told to exercise can lead to uncertainty about how to become more healthy and eventually lead back to less-healthy habits out of shear frustration.

Consider your goals when deciding what your best choices regarding exercises for good health are. Do you want to run longer, walk further, lose weight, or gain mass? These big picture questions about your future health will direct you toward right exercises for your good health.

The five basic components of exercise should be a focused on in any fitness routine: cardiovascular, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility. How much you’ll focus in one area verses another will depend on your goals, fitness level, and time you have to devote.

In a nut shell, cardiovascular exercise works large muscles groups, strengthens our heart and lungs, and is done over a period of time, say 20-60 minutes. Muscle strength and endurance creates muscles strong enough to accomplish desired tasks (strength) over a period of time (endurance). Body composition is a ratio between fat and lean mass and will change according to your fitness. Flexibility training is a fancy name for stretching, but is very important because it keeps our muscles moving through full range of motion ready to respond to tasks we ask of them – lifting grocery bags, catching us as we slip on ice, running to first base, hugging your kids, lifting your best one rep max ever, the list goes on. (See older blog posts for more specifics on the 5 components of fitness)

In the end the best exercises for good health are those you will do!

Good Home Exercises

Good home exercises are easy to do if you have appropriate equipment and space – which is surprising little (for ideas on home gym equipment and space requirements see the blog entry for Good home gym equipment ideas).Good home exercises begin with your current fitness level, your fitness goals, the equipment you have, and the space you’ll be using. Check out my Youtube Channel for more ideas on home workout exercises. 

Equipment needs will be determined by:

Ability to overload your current fitness level

Storage

Space need

Cost

Possible home exercises will be determined by the equipment you’ve got. Here are some ideas to get you started on your home workout.

Use your body weight – push ups, pull ups, and squats effectively target the large muscle groups and may be challenging enough on their own. See the blog posts on how to do each of them for directions and good lower body exercises.

The following exercises are great home exercises and can be adapted to equipment (including soup cans and filled gallon jugs, stairs in your home, furniture/benches, etc) you’ve got on hand:

Chest:
Chest press
Chest Fly

Back:
Back Row – narrow & wide
Lat Pulldown – using rubber tubing
Lat Overhead Pull – using Dumbbells or other external weight

Shoulders:
Lateral / Frontal Raises
Overhead Press – narrow, wide, and reverse grip

Biceps:
Hammer Curl
Front Curl
Reverse Grip Curls
Curls in any form!

Triceps:
Overhead triceps press
French Press (also known as skull crushers)
Triceps extensions
Triceps pressdown using rubber tubing
Dips

Abs:
Crunches of any variety
Reverse crunch
Bicycle

Lower Back:
Supermans
Torso Lift
Lower Body Lift

Don’t forget to stretch when you are through – flexibility training keeps you strong throughout the entire movement range of each muscle and joint!