3 Best Tips for Aerobic Exercise

 

Aerobic exercise, also called cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular fitness, is a good measure of the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood throughout the muscles. Oxygenated blood carries the nutrients the body needs to function effectively. A healthy heart can pump great volumes of oxygenated blood with each beat and will have a high level of cardiovascular fitness.

Jeff AngelHeart disease is directly associated with the cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular systems. One of the primary signs of heart and lung diseases include becoming winded with mild exertion. Individuals with heart or lung disease often become fatigued when performing day to day tasks that most of us take for granted. Aerobic exercise can help increase the body’s utilization of oxygenated blood pumping throughout the body, thus making our bodies stronger and more efficient performing everyday activities.

I’m often asked what are the most important tips I can give for aerobic conditioning. I find myself continuously telling clients and friends three very important factors that will help to improve one’s cardiovascular health. These factors include: know your target heart rate zone, know your intensity level, and be consistent.

1. Know your target heart rate zone.

Your target heart rate zone is the number of beats per minute (bpm) at which your heart should be beating during aerobic exercise in order to promote optimal fitness levels, improving cardiovascular conditioning, and reducing body fat percentages. For most healthy individuals, this range is 60-85% of the maximal heart rate.

Target Heart Rate Calculator

Measuring your heart rate while exercising can be done through two methods. Wearing a heart rate monitor is the easiest and most accurate method of checking your heart rate. A heart rate monitor can be purchased at any sporting goods supplier and ranges from $40 to $200. The least expensive are very accurate and will only display your heart rate. The moderately and highly priced monitors offer a stop watch, warning sounds if your heart rate is too high or too low, standard clock, and many other features.

The second method for monitoring your heart rate is by checking your pulse on your radial artery. The radial pulse can be found on the under side of your wrist using your index and middle fingers held together. Once located, count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you your beats per minute. To be more accurate, count the number of beats in 60 seconds. Both methods are acceptable for determining your heart rate.

2. Know your intensity level.

Once you have determined your beats per minute (within 5 minutes of aerobic exercise), you must ask yourself a few questions:

  • At this intensity, am I in my target heart rate zone? If not, make adjustments accordingly:
    • Above zone, decrease speed or rpms (or incline)
    • Below zone, increase speed or rpms (or incline)
  • How do I feel?
  • Can I maintain this pace for at least 30 minutes?
  • Can I push myself to the upper limits of my target heart rate zone?
  • If so, how long will I hold that upper limit?

Be aware of how your body feels and how you are breathing. If you cannot hold a conversation with someone without catching your breath, you may be going at too fast of a pace. This is what we call the “talk test”.

Intensity levels can vary from person to person and by goals wanting to be reached. Please click here to view the 5 types of training zones which represent low to high intensity levels for cardio conditioning. These training zones will give you an idea of where you should be training for your individual goals.

3. Be consistent.

Consistency is the key when trying to lose weight and body fat. You must stay on your training program and maintain healthy eating habits until you reach your goal weight. Cardiovascular exercise should be done at least 3 days per week for minimal positive aerobic enhancement and reduction of body fat stores. For maximum results, intermediate and advanced trainees should be doing 5-6 days of cardiovascular conditioning per week, for a minimum of 20 minutes and not more than 60 minutes. Exercise modes include any activity (walking, jogging, inline skating, swimming, biking, etc.) that will get your heart rate up into your target heart rate zone.

Know your zone, know your intensity, and be consistent. I believe these 3 tips are most important in improving your aerobic capacity and will help you to lose unwanted weight. Keeping your heart strong is most important in building and maintaining a healthy body.

The Magic Pill for Weight Loss Is Here

 

Got your attention with the title. Guess what? There is no real “magic pill”. Motivation, consistency, and discipline when eating and exercising are my magic pill. MOTIVATION, CONSISTENCY, DISCIPLINE! With these 3 magic words, you will succeed on your journey to weight loss. Of course, these three words alone will not help you to lose weight/body fat and keep your body healthy for the rest of your life. This is where my Guidelines to Weight Loss come in to play. Following the Guidelines will help you to make small steps towards losing the weight that you want to come off. Make small changes in your daily routine, every day, and you will achieve success.

  1. Portion Control – Try eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. This may help to keep your metabolism higher. Three large meals in a day can be higher in calories and can be more difficult for your body to burn these calories off.
  2. Do not starve yourself – Your body can go into “starvation mode” and actually hold on to fat when enough calories are not consumed. Eat lean protein to stay satisfied longer.
  3. Eat food slowly – This can have the effect of making you feel satisfied sooner, helping to consume less food and fewer calories.
  4. Reduce your intake of refined sugar and refined flour products – Substitute these with whole grain and multi-grain products.
  5. Limit use of sauces, dressings, and creams – Always ask for it “on the side”.
  6. Do not go grocery shopping when hungry – People tend to buy junkie snacks and unhealthy foods when they are wanting to eat.
  7. Avoid eating fried foods – Instead of frying foods when cooking, try to bake, broil, or grill.
  8. Try to cook without adding butter, margarine, or oils – These can add a lot of unwanted calories.
  9. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates and lean protein Breakfast will boost your metabolism and keep your energy high and hunger low throughout the day.
  10. If trying to lose weight/body fat, try reducing your caloric intake by 500 kcal per day – 3,500 kcal equals one pound of fat. So if you cut out 500 kcal every day for 7 days, you can lose one pound in one week.
  11. Keeping a food diary can help to reduce your weight – Keeping track of calorie consumption has been proven to be effective in weight reduction and loss of body fat.
  12. Have a support group – Talk to close friends and family about your plans for losing weight. They will be there for you!
  13. Weight lossWater is best – Avoid soft drinks and juice. These are high in calories and sugar. Your body is approximately 80% water. Drink up.
  14. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and interferes with proper physiological functions of the body. Drink alcohol in moderation or preferably cut it out until you reach your goal.
  15. A positive lifestyle change rather than a crash diet is most successful in losing weight. Daily exercise, healthy eating, and motivation will help you reach your goals.

These 15 tips are just some of many ways to help in the battle of weight loss. Be aware, every day, of the food you’re eating and the amount of physical activity and exercise you are doing. Thinking about a healthy lifestyle every day will help you to incorporate more of the tips presented throughout your daily routine. Small changes over a long period of time will certainly add up to weight loss on that scale.

5 Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight

Weight loss

 

Over the years of training I’ve seen many people succeed and fail on their journey of losing weight. The success stories are of those that change their eating behaviors, are discipline and motivated, and exercise regularly. Those that fail tend to go on fad diets, starve themselves, and exercise too much or too little. Excessive exercisers usually burn out before their target weight loss has been reached or get injured in the process. Too little exercise will, of course, not burn enough calories to reduce body fat and weight. Losing weight is a very difficult challenge and needs to be accomplished with focus and consistency. Short cuts are not the answer when it comes to losing weight.

I’ve seen people make many mistakes when trying to lose weight. However, the following five mistakes are the biggest ones I’ve seen.

1. Doing ONLY cardio exercise to burn calories and reduce body fat.

Yes, cardio exercises such as walking, running, spinning, jumping rope, etc. is very important in the fight against fat. However, doing only cardio and not including strength training in your exercise program will certainly slow down your weight loss plans. Cardio exercise is great for burning calories and fat, but can also burn away muscle. Strength training must be done in order to maintain your lean body mass (muscle) which helps to keep your metabolism running high and keep you strong. Bottom line, you must do both – cardio and weights.

2. Eliminating all carbohydrates and fats.

Complex carbohydrates and certain fats are needed in your body for energy and several physiological functions. You need both for high energy in order to get through long, intense workouts. Do stay away from saturated fat and processed carbs. These will certainly keep energy levels low and keep that unwanted weight on.

3. Not being consistent with healthy eating.

This is the biggest problem I see with clients that want to lose weight. I find that people do great with low caloric intake and healthy foods Monday through Thursday. But look out on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. All that heathy eating is thrown out the door on the weekends. Heavy dinners out at restaurants, desserts, over abundance of alcohol, fried foods. The list goes on and on. Listen, if you are on a mission to lose weight, you have to put forth 100% effort until your goal is reached. Once the goal is reached then splurge every now and then. You can’t eat whatever you want on weekends and expect to lose weight. Simple formula to remember – calories in/calories out. If you are taking in more calories than your body needs, then you will not lose weight!

4. Starving yourself.

Not eating will certainly help reduce your weight. However, how long can you go without food before you have a break down and pig-out on an entire pizza? Starving yourself does not work over a long period of time. Research shows that these people will gain the lost weight back, plus an extra 2-3 pounds or more. You must feed your body healthy foods in moderation in order to keep your metabolism running on high throughout the day.

5. Weighing yourself every day.

Do not do this! When that number on the scale doesn’t move for five days in a row, people get disappointed and frustrated which leads to lack of motivation and questioning all the effort put into healthy eating and exercise. Be patient! If you are sticking with the program and eating properly, the weight will come off. Weigh in once a week, preferably the same day and time and first thing in the morning (after a visit to the bathroom).

Losing weight takes time, consistency, and a lot of motivation and hard work. You must be discipline when it’s time to make the decision to eat dessert or not. Or deciding to have that third glass of wine. Or ordering steamed broccoli instead of french fries. When it comes down to it, it is YOU that has ultimate control over your weight loss. Be patient and consistent with your eating habits and exercise and you will surely see that number on the scale get lower and lower.

HIIT, Your Best Shot at Being Fit

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High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has been around for years but is finally coming into mainstream fitness for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Several years ago, HIIT was incorporated into the training regimens of Olympic, Professional, and Collegiate athletes. The benefits of high intensity training for these athletes included higher VO2 Max, greater lung capacity, improved oxygen utilization, delayed onset of lactic acid build up in muscle cells, and greater overall output during practice, drills, games, and competitions.

That’s all good stuff, right? To the average person these improvements don’t mean much. What it does mean to the average person is this: burn a lot of calories in a short period of time while boosting your metabolism and improving your cardiovascular conditioning.

Many of my clients and friends complain of having to do long, tiresome, and boring cardio workouts that leave them wishing there was a better way to “get it done”. HIIT is the way to get it done in a shorter period of time but with a much higher intensity level. You really need to work your butt off to make this work for you!

To start, you must determine your Target Heart Rate Zone (THRZ). This can be done by clicking here. During HIIT, the goal is to get your heart rate up to the upper end of the THRZ, keep it there for a short period of time (1 -2 minutes), then bring it down to the middle of your THRZ for a short period of time, then back up again. This pattern should be performed for 20 to 30 minutes.

This type of training is called high intensity for a reason. It is challenging and tough to do. You will breath heavily and sweat a lot when performed properly. The goal is to get your heart rate up as high and as safe as possible in a short period of time in order to burn high amounts of calories. Depending on your training schedule, HIIT can be performed 2-3 times per week.

The following HIIT programs are some of my favorites to do. These are just examples. I recommend you consult with your physician or a professional fitness instructor before trying these HIIT programs. Be sure to monitor your heart rate to make sure you are at the upper end of your THRZ. It will take approximately 7-8 minutes to get the heart rate up that high. If your heart rate gets too high and you have trouble catching your breath, then lower your intensity by decreasing speed, incline, or pace of exercises. Good luck!

Treadmill HIIT (for beginners):

  1. Brisk walk at 4.5 mph at 2% incline for 2 min. (this may be a slow jog for some of you)
  2. Run or Jog at 6.0 mph at 1% incline for 1 min.
  3. Brisk walk at 4.0 mph at 5% incline for 2 min.

Repeat 4 more times then do 5 minute cool down (walk at 3.5 mph)

Total Time (including cool down): 30 minutes

Outside HIIT (for intermediate trainees):

  1. Jog at your own pace for 2 min.
  2. Sprint for 30 seconds
  3. Walk for 1 minute 30 seconds

Repeat 5 mores times then do 5 minute cool down (slow walk)

Total Time (including cool down): 25 minutes

HIIT Using Calisthenics (for advanced trainees):

  1. Jumping Jacks for 45 seconds
  2. Mountain Climbers for 30 seconds
  3. March in place for 30 seconds (for a rest; brings heart rate down a little)
  4. Burpees or Squat Thrusts for 45 seconds
  5. Scissor Jumps and Jabs for 30 seconds
  6. March in place for 30 seconds
  7. 10 Push-Ups

Repeat 5 more times then do 5 minute cool down (slow walk)

Approximate Total Time (including cool down): 20 minutes

As you can see, HIIT can be done a variety of ways. The ways to do High Intensity Interval Training is endless. The key items to focus on are your heart rate and your breathing. If either gets to high for your fitness level, then decrease your intensity.

Putting together a HIIT program takes a little bit of thinking and imagination and a lot of hard work and motivation. However, this type of exercise will certainly get you in shape, burn a high amount of calories, and keep your metabolism running high all day long.

 

 

Importance of Eating After Your Workout

Micronutrients

Eating is an extremely important part of staying fit and healthy. We need food in order to fuel our bodies for physiological functions, daily activities, and exercise. An automobile, for instance, needs clean gasoline to make it go. Without gasoline, the car will not move. As with our bodies, we need the proper fuel to give us energy to get through our day. Without proper nourishment, our bodies feel tired and run down. Eating foods that are highly processed, full of sugar,  and high in saturated fat will certainly make your body feel slow and sluggish. How can you get through a long day of school, work, dealing with your kids, and exercise when proper fueling for your body is not in place? It’s difficult!

If you exercise regularly, your body needs proper nourishment throughout the entire day. Most importantly, immediately following your workout. No matter what type of training you are doing for the day, your body’s nutrients need to be replenished immediately after your training session. Immediately means within 20-30 minutes of finishing the workout. This may be difficult for some of you, however with proper planning you can certainly accomplish this.

After a hard workout, the body is drained of many of the nutrients it needs in order to grow, heal, and become stronger. Complex carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals are all needed after your workout. These nutrients are vital in helping with repair and recovery of broken down muscle tissue, replenishing drained glucose levels (energy) needed for tomorrow’s workout, and keeping all physiological functions of the body performing with high-efficiency.

This is where the planning comes in to place. If you know you are training tomorrow, then have a pre-packaged meal, or meal supplement, prepared that can be immediately consumed after the workout. Some ideas for a post-workout meal are as follows:

  • Protein shake that contains some carbohydrates and plenty of vitamins and minerals. There are so many of these on the market and may be difficult to choose the proper one. Choose one that has whey protein, contains 15-20 grams of protein per serving, has low sugar (less than 15 grams), can be mixed easily with water, and, most importantly, tastes good.
  • Broiled or grilled chicken breast and a small, baked, sweet potato.
  • Turkey sandwich, with fresh spinach leaves and tomatoes on whole grain bread.
  • Natural peanut butter and low sugar preservatives on multi-grain bread.
  • Arugula and spinach leaf salad with chopped grilled chicken breast and red, yellow, and orange peppers. Use your favorite dressing sparingly.

These examples of post-workout meals are some of my favorites. There are plenty of choices out there for everyone. Remember, you must plan and prepare ahead of time.

The post-workout meal is one of the most important meals of the day. You are not only replenishing the nutrients you burned up while exercising, you are also fueling your body for tomorrow’s workout. Fueling your body with complex carbs, lean protein, and plenty of vegetables and fruit will have a direct effect on your energy levels, lean muscle mass, and weight loss. So be prepared, have a plan, be consistent, and stay focused with your refueling. You will find yourself increasing your exercise intensity and continually improving your fitness levels.

5 Secrets to Weight Loss

 

People are always looking for easy fixes and fast results when it comes to losing weight. It seeems like every other month there’s a new fad diet that the news is reporting on: fat-free, sugar-free, low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free, juicing, gabbage soup, low-calorie, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure that if you’re reading this article, you’ve tried at least one of these diets. Sure, diets may work for a period of time. However, these are quick fix remedies to weight loss. Most likely, individuals doing these diets will stay on them for a few weeks, lose a few pounds, go back to eating poorly, and gain the weight back plus a few extra pounds. People are not learning the proper way to eat healthy and exercise daily in order to keep the weight off. Behavior modification is most important when wanting to lose weight, maintain healthy eating habits, and living a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Of course, it’s easy for me to give you the advice. The most diffficult part is to implement this advice into your life and change your current behaviors. There are several actions that need to take place in order for you to live a healthy life, lose weight, keep the weight off, and stay physically active. I have provided Weight Control Guidelines on our website. These Guidelines will help you to stay on track when trying to lose weight. These are not secrets to weight loss. This is information that most of you already know, however, you may not be implementing in your life.

The following list includes the most important guidelines to follow when trying to lose weight. Please remember, these are not quick weight-loss solutions. These are guidelines you should be following all the time for the rest of your life. When on the journey of losing weight, you should keep in mind that the weight should come off slowly. I recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. Studies have shown that people that lose 1 to 2 pounds per week tend to keep that weight off permanently. Studies also show that people that go on crash diets lose weight, then go off the diet, and gain that weight back plus an extra 3 to 5 pounds. This is due to not changing their eating behaviors permenantly.

  1. Reduce your intake of processed food and refined sugars. Examples of these include: white bread, pasta, white rice, fast food such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, and Taco Bell, cookies, cakes, snack foods such as pretzels, chips, and soda pop. These food products tend to be high in calories, trans fats, and sugar. Substitute these foods with whole grain and multi-grain products and increase your intake of a variety of vegetables.
  2. Portion control. Eat 6 small meals a day rather than 3 large meals a day. This will help to keep your metabolism higher. Three large meals a day can be higher in calories and makes it more difficult for your body to burn these calories up. Six small meals a day will keep your energy levels higher, keep you feeling less hungry, and will help you to reduce your caloric intake.
  3. Eat lean protein with every meal. Protein plays an important role in the development of muscle, hair, and nails. Studies have also shown that protein helps to keep people more satisfied and less hungry later in the day.
  4. When trying to lose weight/body fat, reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. So if you can cut out 500 calories every day for 7 days, you can lose one pound in one week. This sticks with the recommendation of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week in order to keep that weight off for the rest of your life. One way of reducing your caloric intake is to cut out carbs such as pasta, breads, and rice at dinner time. Replace these with a variety of vegetables. Do not completely cut out complex carbohydrates from your diet. Complex carbohydrates are the body’s number one source for energy. You need these “good” carbs early in the day in order to perform your daily routine such as going to work or school, running the kids around town, and EXERCISE!
  5. Drink water throughout the day. Avoid soft drinks, soda pop, and juices. These are high in calories and sugar. Our bodies are 80% water. Water is important for healthy skin, proper physiological functions of the body, and, of course, keeping you hydrated for your workouts.

These 5 important guidelines are just a few of several tips that you should be following when it comes to proper daily nutrition. Please click here to learn more important nutritional information. Combining these weight control guidelines with daily physical activity and exercise will certainly help you to reduce your body weight and body fat. I understand that changing behavior is a very difficult thing to do. So start off slow. Try changing one thing in your eating habits. Accomplish that for 6 weeks and then add on another. Remember, these are lifestyle changes that will stay with you for the rest of your life. These changes will not only help you to lose weight but may help to decrease illnesses and diseases and prolong your life.

 

Weight Watchers Simple Start Review

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As a weight loss devotee, I’ve used Weight Watchers many times in the past to lose weight. I counted Points and then learned to recount using Points Plus. I had good results and learned some healthy habits that stayed with me long after I grew weary of counting and recording every bite of food.

And if you’ve tried Weight Watchers, you know that constant counting can become a real drag.

So I was excited by the prospect of the Weight Watchers Simple Start approach. This time, there would be no points to count. I only had to restrict myself to foods from the approved list for two weeks. And best of all, if it is on the list, there is no limit to the quantity.

I (mostly) followed the approach for two weeks and did lose three pounds.  Staying true to my usual pattern, I started strong.  The first five days were great.  The remaining days, I made some mistakes.  So, if you are considering following this program, I think I’d like to suggest some tips and also, some piitfalls to avoid, to increase your likelihood of weight loss success.

Week 1 The First 5 Days:  Tips for Success

1. Stock your kitchen.

The first thing I did was I download the grocery list and head to the grocery store to fill my kitchen with Power Foods.  Some of the food was normal for me; I always buy lots of fruits and vegetables.  Salad ingredients and lean meats like chicken or 4% fat beef are always in my grocery cart and are also central to Quick Start.  I have recently discovered quiunoa and that was already in my pantry.  However, my family balks at whole grain pasta or brown rice.  But Quick Start requires it so I was buying it.  I generally drink sparkling water and herbal tea so those were no problem.  Some of the foods, though, were not what I usually purchase.  Low calorie bread, sugar-free jello, light yogurt, and fat-free cheese have not been in my fridge for a while.  I have moved away from artificial sweeteners and highly processed food in recent months.  But the Quick Start program encourages these foods so I bought them.  I planned to follow this with fidelity or not at all.

2.  Plan your meals.

I began my first week with a plan for every meal.  I spent Sunday chopping vegetables for salads and marinating lean meat for quick dinners. I packed my lunches with only Power Foods.  I carefully mapped out the snacks I would eat.  When it came time to make dinner, I didn’t veer from the program because everything was ready to go.  My children were not too excited about broiled chicken breasts, they are partial to fried.  But, with enough ketchup they will eat just about anything so they didn’t starve and I stayed true to the program.

3.  Focus on hunger level.

I found I wasn’t hungry during this first week, just a little bored.  The reason I was tempted to cheat was not because I was starving.  It was because I missed mini Snickers as an afternoon snack.  I had to make myself focus on my hunger level and when I did, I knew I didn’t need to eat…only that I wanted to.  You don’t have to be hungry with Simple Start because you can eat as much as you want.

Well, not exactly.

Weight Watchers actually indicates that you should eat as much as you think you need.  This is a slippery slope and tricky advice to follow as I learned in Week Two.

When the weekend arrived, I double checked and confirmed that wine is not a Power Food.  Sadly, being made from grapes didn’t make up for the empty alcohol calories.  I found my resolve weakening.  I allowed myself a glass on Friday and two on Saturday.  I stuck to the Power Foods and didn’t feel I had derailed myself too badly.  The scale hadn’t moved much but I was hopeful another week would change that.

Week Two:  What Not To Do if You Hope to Succeed

1.  Skip the planning.

I didn’t plan or shop well for week two.  By Tuesday I was out of salad ingredients so I turned to whole wheat pasta with fat-free cheese and tuna in large portions.  I began to snack on whole wheat bagels dipped in fat-free yogurt .  I added Triscuits and Wheat Thins to the Power Foods list and didn’t get permission from Weight Watchers.  Without pre-chopped vegetables and ready to go dinners, I found myself cheating more and more.

2.  Over-do it with Power Foods.

Although I stuck to the(modified) Power Food list, I found myself steadily upping the portions.  I noticed how much my overall food intake was increasing.  Before Simple Start, I never ate pasta for lunch.  Now, that whole wheat had become a carbohydrate green light, I couldn’t stop myself.

Back when I was pregnant and gaining weight rapidly, I encountered a rather unsympathetic doctor. I insisted that I was eating healthy and couldn’t understand why I was gaining.  He replied with this painful wisdom, “If you eat a bushel of apples every day, you’ll still gain weight.  It’s calories.”  I could hear his words ringing in my ear as I finished my third thin whole wheat bagel of the morning.

3.  Quit early.

By Friday night, I was ready for Quick Start to be over.  I stopped a couple of days early, poured myself a big glass of wine and ate a piece of cake.

After (almost) two weeks, I did lose about three pounds and felt a little better.  I had broken my sugar-sneaking cycle and realized how much food I had been frying or drenching in butter prior to Quick Start.  But I also realized that I had already been doing many things right when it comes to eating.  Some of the dietary changes required by Quick Start, using artificial sweeteners and fat-free products, as well as allowing myself unlimited whole grain carbs, were potentially detrimental to my health and weight loss.

Full disclaimer, I didn’t want to spend the money to actually join Weight Watchers, I just used the tools that you can access for free by registering with Weight Watchers online.  But by deciding to go the cheap route, I gave up the full range of recipe ideas and other support tools that are available.  I also wasn’t going to meetings or chatting online with a support group.  I think if I had joined I would have had better results.

Overall, I found the Weight Watchers Quick Start approach to be effective and easy to follow.  I do well with strict rules when focusing on weight loss so the limited list of Power Food worked for me.  I know I would have lost more weight if I had cut out all alcohol, limited my carb intake, and planned my shopping better for week two.  I see this approach as a helpful “start-over” if you’ve found yourself in a negative eating pattern.  It will give you a fresh start and help you evaluate the changes in your diet that you want to make permanent.

5 Best Ab Exercises

Jeff Angel

There are so many ab exercises out there and it’s difficult to pinpoint which are the best. I tell my clients that all ab exercises are great and to remember that doing abdominal exercises will not reduce fat in the midsection. Abdominal exercises will help to increase strength in your core and also tighten up the midsection. However, body fat will not be burned off in the abdominal region by doing 1,000 crunches a day! Body fat reduction will occur when caloric intake is reduced and cardiovascular work is intensified. Ab exercises are not to be done every day. Your abs are just like any other muscle group, they need to rest and recover after a hard workout. The abdominal muscles need to repair and grow in order to become stronger after being broken down. Rest is the key. Abs should be trained 2 to 3 times per week. Nothing more! So if you are doing crunches, leg lifts, and planks every day, stop this routine now. Spend that time doing more high intensity cardio bouts and cutting back on food and/or alcohol intake.

Now, time for the list of the 5 best ab exercises that I believe are the best for strengthening and shaping the abdominal muscles. A written description of each exercise is not adequate enough to properly describe each exercise. Therefore, I’ve provided a YouTube video on our YouTube channel. You must see each exercise demonstrated properly in order for you to perfrom them properly. Some of these exercises may be advanced for some of you, so be sure to be cautious yet confident when doing them. Good Luck!

The List:

  1. Leg Lift with a ball exchange from hands to feet.
  2. The Pike
  3. BOSU Crunches (If you do not have a BOSU, purchase one. It is a must have in your home gym)
  4. Bicycle Crunch
  5. The Plank using a Fit-Ball

When performing these exercises, as with all exercises no matter what the muscle group, be sure to use slow and controlled motions and always go though a full range of motion. Always try to contract or “squeeze” the abdominal muscles tight when crunching up or doing a plank. Form is most important when performing any exercise, especially the abs. You don’t want to over strain the low back and have an injury sideline you from working out for a few weeks. If the exercise becomes too tiring and your form starts to break, you should stop that set and rest.

These are my favorite ab exercises to do. You’ll hear differently from other health professionals and fitness enthusiasts, as with any other subject. All ab exercises are good as long as you are actually doing them properly and consistently. Please remember the most important information here. Ab exercises will help to strengthen and shape your abdominal muscles. These exercises will not burn fat in the midsection. Increase your cardio intensity and step away from the dinner table in order to decrease your body fat. The combination of proper nutrition and daily exercise will help you to get the abs you want.

What Is Your Body Mass Index?

Weight loss

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good way to assess your body weight relative to height. This method is an indirect measure of body composition because it correlates highly with body fat in most people. Having a BMI above 25 can indicate a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes, certain cancers, and osteoarthritis.

Click here to determine your Body Mass Index.

The following BMI categories are from the National Center for Health Statistics:

  • Adults (18 years of age and older) having a value of less than 18.5 are considered underweight.
  • Adult BMI values from 18.5 to 24.9 are healthy.
  • Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0 to less than 30.0. Adults in this range are at greater risk of developing heart disease.
  • Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30.0 or greater for adults. People with a BMI in this range are at greater risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and joint problems.
  • Extreme obesity is defined as a BMI of 40 or greater.

Please click on our Body Mass Index calculator to determine your BMI. If your value is greater than 25, you should consult with your physician and discuss a weight loss plan. The time is now to take control of your weight. Delaying an exercise program may only worsen your condition. Always remember to start off slow when just starting out with exercise. Walking is one of the best ways to get moving, increase your cardiovascular conditioning, and burn off excess body fat. Reducing your BMI now, will help to reduce your risk of serious health problems in the future.

Best Exercise Equipment on a Budget

Jeff Angel

You don’t have to have a big, fancy, expensive gym in your home to get a great work-out and see results. Yes, I must admit that having a Hoist V6, a top-of-the- line Octane, and chrome dumbbells that go up to 200 lbs would be awesome. But, let’s be realistic. Most of us can’t afford this type of fitness equipment nor do we have the space for it in our homes or apartments. What if I told you that you can get a great in-home gym for less than $200.00. Most of you wouldn’t believe me. Some of the best exercise equipment you can buy is relatively inexpensive and can be stored away in a closet or under a bed after being used. I emphasis “being used”, because you must get the equipment out and actually utilize it. I’m going to recommended some of the key items you should have in hand in order to get your body in the best shape by summer. You need to get the motivation and desire to change your body now. Not in a week, or in a month. Now is the time!

The LIST:

1. Jump Rope – This is an old school exercise that does not require a lot of space. A good jump rope can cost approximately $15.00 at any sporting goods store.  Jumping rope is a GREAT way to improve cardio conditioning and burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. This is my favorite exercise to do in order to stay lean.

2. BOSU – Great piece of equipment that is the size of a half of a 55 cm Fit-Ball. It is dome-shaped and can be used with both sides up (see our BOSU YouTube video). I always emphasize core strengthening and the BOSU is one of the best items to help you do just that. Exercising on a BOSU will improve balance, endurance, and overall body strength when utilized properly. The BOSU costs approximately $115.00. Slightly expensive, but well worth the investment when you use it 3 times a week.

3. Dumbbells – A set of light-weight hand-held dumbbells adds the resistance you need in order to improve strength and develop muscle definition. I recommend a set of dumbbells that range from 5 to 10 lbs for women and 8 to 15 lbs for men. I am not recommending heavy weights for the exercises I teach. Multi-muscle group exercises consist of light-weight high-repetition movements that are designed to significantly increase one’s heart rate and incorporate several of the 11 components of physical fitness (visit our YouTube channel for examples). A set of light weight dumbbells including 3 different weights will cost approximately $50.00.

4. YOUR BODY – You need to get your body up and moving in order for any of the above equipment to work properly. Find the motivation deep down inside and start moving. The best part of this last piece of equipment is that it is FREE!

Total Cost for your new in-home gym: $180.00

Piecing together an exercise routine with this minimal amount of exercise equipment may seem difficult. However, if you are serious about getting in shape, you must educate yourself. Watch exercise videos, read exercise/fitness books, or hire a personal trainer just for a few sessions to learn a few basic exercise routines. The information is out there. You need to take the time to find it and get the motivation to start your exercise program. Now is the time to get ready for summer and change your body. Get Moving!