Choosing Your Ideal Body

Have an image in your head of the ideal body? Think you need to look different than your current structure allows? How did you come up with that idea, anyway? What is your real body type?

Each person is different, therefore carry weight differently. There are three different body types, and each category is going to have different properties and will carry and build muscle differently.
A Mesomorph has an athletic build – usually builds muscle quickly, an Ectomorph is someone who is thin, may have trouble putting on weight, and tends to have a small bone structure, and an Endomorph is someone who easily puts on weight, and may have trouble losing it – no you are not all endomorphs.

It is not fair to judge yourself now if you are far from your “normal” body type. Most of us can remember where our bodies felt best, and it may not be on any ole’ chart. We can remember feeling strong, having energy, how good it felt to move. This is our ideal.

Unfortunately, we are constantly looking at images of other people which may not reflect what is best for us. Many people use the media’s portrayal of the human body as ideal however one must remember that media is an art form. Images are created, modified, and altered. What we see may not be real. Things get taped up, moved over, pulled tight, air brushed, and we often do not see the entire “stage” of an image – who is behind the model, how garments are held on, how are they standing, sitting, being held up, etc.

You are not a piece of art on display. You are a real human being with daily activities, responsibilities, and patterns, many not always glamorous. You want a body that supports your life demands and has the endurance to see you through the finish line. Set your ideal body accordingly.

Charting Your Fitness Without Using Body Weight

Many people come to me and say, “ I want to weigh…”, I always ask why. This usually frustrates the client and their response is something like, because that’s what I should weigh or what I did weigh. What I would like all of you to know is…stop using weight as the ultimate measure of your success. Get off the scale!
How then, you say, am I supposed to know how I am doing? The best way is to ask yourself:

Do your clothes fit better
Have I lost inches
Do I feel better
Is my stress level down
Am I sleeping better
Do I have more energy
All of these will be great indicators of your commitment and your success. However, if you’d like more feedback on your fitness and your progress, its more effective to measure body fat.

See the blog posts on What is Body Fat and When to Weigh In for more information on this fitness component.

When to Weigh In

Many people like to use body weight as a motivating factor to stay focused on their fitness goals. Beware of getting caught in the number trap.

Weight is important, but please don’t let it be your success or failure mark. Many things change throughout the month, and as your body cycles (both men and women) your body weight will change. This is true during the day as well, you will weigh different in the morning than the evening. Your body weight may fluctuate around 5lbs in a day – so how can that be a great indicator? Plain and simple it isn’t.
If you must weigh yourself, do so on the same day of the month and at the same time each weigh-in. It is easiest to do this when you wake up, you’ll be able to wear the same thing and generally have eaten the same thing prior to weighing – nothing for approximately 8 hours. You can weigh yourself in between your monthly weigh-in but I caution you to not be too tied to that number instead use it to keep you focused on working out.

Finally, remember a weight measurement in fitness is a time measurement. To get the most accurate idea of how you are doing you must track this measurement over a period of time.

What is Body Fat?

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

What is a better indicator of health and fitness success – how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is? Many people don’t like thinking about their fat but its an important factor to be considered when working on your fitness.

Body fat is a measurement used to indicate health. There are a number of ways to measure body fat, all differentiate between your body fat vs your lean mass. Lean mass is everything but the fat, your blood, tissues, fluids, bones, muscles, everything else. When you jump on the scale you are measuring everything, which is not a great indicator of health. Think about a bodybuilder, they may have lots of lean mass and not much fat mass, but they will weigh more, likewise, a person who is thin with low body weight may have higher fat mass and may not be as healthy. Fitness professionals use it to determine goals for clients and how to approach training.
When looking for a professional to read your body fat, keep some limitations in mind. There are many types of body fat tests, and some tests are more accurate. Tester experience is a must. Tests can be less accurate due to your hydration levels, when you worked out last, who is performing the test, and the amount of sites taken (depends on test). The best way to get an accurate picture of your body fat is to begin with one tester, one method, and stick to it. Measure at the same time of the month and same time each time you test.

Following these guidelines will allow you to track your progress in a more controlled environment. Remember, bottom line is, if you are moving, you are on your way to health!

Failing To Success

Have you ever experienced sighs, rolling of eyes, or underhanded “not again” comments when you announce to those closest to you that you are embarking on a new fitness goal? Well, take note.

When trying to form a new lifestyle it is important to go after your dreams. Some dreams may be weird, or hard, or nearly impossible, and those that know you best, know it will be a rough, if not, wild ride before you are done, but do it anyway, and for god’s sake quit listening to them! I am not suggesting you quit your day job, move to a faraway land, and forgo all responsibilities.
If you are dealing with a friend or family member who is working hard toward a goal and failing, or if you are the friend who continually tries, but are having trouble getting it off the ground over and over, take note. Failing is reaching for success.

By repeating an activity even if it seems we are not reaching our goals, we are creating pathways in the brain that reinforce our goal. These pathways become stronger the more they are used and soon it becomes second nature.

Today look back and take stock of the failures you’ve had. Can you see a pattern? Can you see progress (remember to look at the big picture)? Can you see where you may need work? If these questions seem daunting, hire a professional in whatever area you are working to change who can help you sort through your ideas.

Once you’ve got your track record you can limit your obstacles based on past experience, draw new confidence based on what you have been able to overcome, and begin again armed and ready when your best buddy rolls their eyes and exclaims, “Not again!”

What Makes You Happy?

Being happy has far reaching consequences. What makes you happy? Have you ever thought about that? I mean really thought about it. Right now today what makes you happy? What brings a smile to your face and warms your heart?

Many times we are looking outside ourselves for the experience of happiness. We may feel like if only I could be more like or do such and such better I would be happy. Many claim if only I had ____ (that car, the bigger house, more money) I would be happy. Many times what we think makes us happy is really good marketing.

In this time of economic crisis it is a great time to ask yourself what makes you happy, truly happy to the core of your being. As the world checks it’s desires its a great time to look deep inside yourself and find what truly makes you happy each day and set about participating in and enjoy being happy each day.

I realized I hadn’t thought too much about what truly makes me happy and I certainly wasn’t doing something each day to create happiness in my life. Now my experience has been that it is very simple things that make me happy, a cup of tea in the sunshine, flowers, bird song, slow sunsets with a friends, watching my kids play, simple stuff.

Some may say happiness is a byproduct of life, and that may very well be true, but I don’t see anything wrong with going out and bringing it into your life everyday.

Be Happy, Lose Weight

How often do you think about being happy with your life and yourself and as a result you lose weight?

How often do you think about being happy with your life and yourself and as a result you lose weight? A recent article in the Journal of Consumer Research makes the point that being happy can help us see the big picture. Participants were better able to think abstractly therefore enhancing their ability to reach their goals and stay motivated.

Laymen terms – if you are happy you will see beyond crisis right in front of you. You’ll be better able to hold the vision of your desired weight, running time, speed and the efforts it will take to get you to your desired point.

If you are happy you will be able to focus more effectively on what to do in the short term to reach the larger goal. A direct result of being able to hold the big picture of what you ultimately want in your mind when taking smaller steps toward completion of the goal.

You’ll train harder and maybe longer and definitely more consistently if you are focused. When you examine the contents of the fridge you are more likely to choose healthy options if you are happy than if you are looking for emotional comfort in your foods.

So start today and take steps to make yourself happy. Surround yourself with activities, things and people that make you happy to reach your fitness goals.

References:

Labroo, A. A., & Patrick, V. M.(2009). Psychological distancing: Why happiness helps you see the big picture [Abstract]. Journal of
Consumer Reserach, 35(5), 800-809.

Pawlik-Kienlen, L. (2009, March/April). Happy pictures on the fridge will help you lose weight. Spirituality & Health, 30.

Self-Responsibility – Its Your Health and Up To You!

Each year millions of Americans decide to lose weight. They jump on the treadmill January 1st and find out its hard. Really hard to change their lifestyle. So what do they do? They quit. They throw up their hands, shake their heads, turn around, and give up. This cycle creates multiple issue for the individuals; not to mention loss of confidence, happiness, and a lower sense of accomplishment. Who is the primary person at the center of this process? Who is the one person who controls the outcome? Who is the person with the power? YOU.

Each year I see many individuals who come in excited, ready for change only to leave six weeks later exhausted, defeated, and disgusted. Hmmm… seems to me we may have misunderstood the work effort involved. Who told you lifestyle change is easy? If the process is going to work you must take responsibility for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. You can become healthy, you can take the time to take care of yourself. You can do this. You just have to start somewhere. Why not start by walking right now. One foot in front of the other, moving toward your goal of better health.

A Look at Heart Disease

Cardiovascular health is incredibly important. With February drawing near I thought it appropriate to discuss heart disease, today. Heart disease is the number one killer in America. It kills more people than cancer. What are you doing to protect yourself?

Eight out of eleven risk factors are lifestyle choices, so you do have a choice. There are genetic factors as well, but with the scale tipped greatly toward your daily choices, t is important to understand you have a choice. The three you cannot control are: increasing age, gender, and race. The ones you control: tobacco smoke – especially cigarettes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and overweight, and diabetes. In addition are these two: too much stress and too much alcohol. Physical inactivity is a factor in six of those listed above. Hmmm, the answer seems pretty clear to me, make sure you move your body every day. Begin at your level and exercise, plus make healthy choices when choosing foods and then make sure you eat them!

To strengthen the heart, lungs, and vascular systems we perform cardiovascular training. Choose activities that make you breathe harder and make you sweat, which you can sustain over a period of time. What activities can you do to raise your heart rate? Walk, run, ride a bike (without a motor), swim, rollerblade, climb stairs, play tag with your kids, the list is long and limitless as long as it raises and sustains your heart rate.

Cardio Workouts Indoors

If you are a regular outdoor cardio exerciser how will you meet your cardiovascular goals this winter when weather isn’t great? How to reach your target heart rate with limited space and equipment? How long will you be able to maintain it?

Three women dresset sportswear sitting on fitness ball and talking.

These are all important questions if you are going to continue to reach your fitness goals as you move inside. Many people are able to successfully implement an at home strength training workout, but lose motivation when they attempt to bring their cardio work indoors. Many feel silly, or just cannot stay excited about movement when they are attempting to reach cardiovascular training guidelines. Again, this is a good place to bring in a personal trainer to get some advice and help designing an at home program.

Many of the same questions apply when moving cardiovascular work inside as we considered when moving strength indoors. Is this going to be your only source of cardio work? Do you have space for equipment? Will you dig it out of storage to use it? What is your budget? You can still effectively train with little or no equipment, but some thought must be given to your goals and honesty is needed when examining how you will go about reaching your heart rate zone.

Do you want to purchase equipment? What type would you like to have? Are you interested in investing in a treadmill, bike, or other piece of cardio equipment? Do you have the budget for it? Will you really use it? If you can answer yes, shopping around is a must.
Save with the YogaAccessories.com Deal of the Week!

There are many good brands out there, but make sure what you purchase will fit your needs. For example, do not buy a bike if you find riding boring. A treadmill is great if you use it and have the space for it, but if it is bulking or inconvenient most will ignore it. Will you do a video? Videos can be a great way to get fun exercise in. It can help make sure you are thinking about heart rate levels and are aware of safety reminders. Many enjoy the experience of a group in their own living room, and benefit from an on screen instructor.

High quality yoga accessories at great prices!

Be aware of some pitfalls – will you feel too silly to complete the tape? How easily do you get bored? Do you like repetition? Will you be able to stay motivated after you have mastered the steps? Make sure you consider your personality when you choose a video. There are many options, with many instructor styles, and lots of formats. Think about what you like to do and what will remain interesting to you, then choose accordingly.

If buying equipment and videos are not your style you have other options. Some things to consider when looking for places to workout inside are: Will you really be able to meet your fitness goals in this location? Do you feel safe? What type of gear do I need?

One of the biggest problems my clients face when choosing to move workouts indoors without cardiovascular equipment is keeping their heart rates up over a period of time. At home they find they get bored easily and in other locations, such as the mall, they may not be able to move fast enough for long enough to really be effective.

When deciding how to move inside it is important to consider your budget, your safety, and if you can realistically reach your cardiovascular needs. How will you retain your motivation as the activity becomes repetitive, and will you continue to push yourself as you become accustomed to the activities? Get creative.

Tell us below how you decided to get your heart pumping indoors this season.