Need Help Reaching Your Fitness Goals?

If you’re interested in starting a regular exercise program or upping the ante on your current fitness regime, hiring a personal trainer is a great way to accomplish your goals. Personal trainers typically work one-on-one with clients toward an individualized fitness goal. Personal trainers motivate their clients and apply their fitness and nutrition knowledge to help you reach your health and fitness goals.

Personal trainers are typically employed by gyms and health clubs, either floating around the gym to answer questions or teaching fitness classes. Most commonly, however, personal trainers have a regular client base who workout on scheduled days and times of the week at the gym where the trainer is employed. During these sessions, the trainer motivates their client while they work out, correcting techniques when needed and generally overseeing the exercise time. The trainer often also provides tips for clients to improve their lifestyles outside of the gym, most commonly advising on proper nutrition. A good trainer will closely monitor clients’ progress to determine what’s working and what’s not to keep the exercise fresh and the results productive.

If you’re ready to hire a trainer, first do some research to make sure you choose the one that’s just right for you and your fitness goals. If you have a friend who’s had some recent success with a trainer, ask for a referral. Otherwise, call your local gym or check the yellow pages. Only you know the personal training style that will work best for you. Ask yourself some questions and be honest with your answers. Do you seek “tough love” to motivate you to run faster? Or are you seeking a trainer who will simply motivate you to show up for every session?

If you’re already the member of a gym, observe the facility’s personal trainers as they interact with their clients. Do they seem closely involved with their clients? Do they seem to be good listeners? Do they motivate in a positive way, or are they more like drill sergeants? If the trainer directs their client to jog for 15 minutes and then walks away for those 15 minutes, this isn’t a good sign. If the trainer walks on a treadmill beside the client, talking and encouraging, they’re probably someone you should consider. Remember that you’re paying for a service, so make sure it’s the kind of service you’ll be satisfied with. Ask yourself if spending three hours (or however many sessions) a week with this person is agreeable to you?

If your gym assigns you a trainer, make sure you express certain preferences ahead of time. If you’re a female and would prefer a female trainer, for example, let the manager know before you’re assigned a trainer. It’s also helpful to express any specific goals you may have beforehand. For example, if your goal is to train for a marathon or get in shape for a wedding gown, ideally you’ll be matched with a trainer with experience in these areas.

Personal trainers supply accountability and motivation to reach your specific health and fitness goals. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, lower your cholesterol, or get biceps just like Madonna’s, a good personal trainer can be an invaluable resource for guiding and motivating you every step of the way.

Living and Eating for Maximum Nutrition

salmon-steakFor the last several years our interest in healthy living and healthy eating has been at an all time time! And that is a good thing. We all know that most people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and that many people eat too much of the wrong things – like sugar, salt and fat. Reversing this trend will take some time and some effort, but starting with your own diet is a great way to improve your health and your life.

The key to changing your diet, of course, is to change it is ways that you can live with for a lifetime. The reason that most diet and lifestyle changes fail is that they are too difficult to follow once the initial excitement has worn off. The key is to make small changes, simple changes, that you can follow for the rest of your life.

Where you start your healthy eating plan depends in great part on your particular goals. For many people, a healthy eating program can be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables. For others, a healthy eating plan will require a radical change in the way they shop, cook, and eat.

Since healthy eating means so many different things to different people, it is impossible to come up with a single healthy eating guide that will be right for everyone. The runner toning up for a marathon will have different nutritional needs than the factor worker who wants to lose 20 pounds.

No matter what the goal, however, it is important to eat a variety of foods, and to make smart choices when shopping, when cooking and when eating. Eating out can present special challenges, and it is important to familiarize yourself with the ingredients of the foods you order in your favorite restaurant.

Making healthy food choices means eating more of the good foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc., and less of the bad foods, like salt, sugar and fats.

Starting by eating more high nutrition, low calorie foods is a good place to start. Luckily, the produce section of the local grocery store likely contains hundreds of different examples of such foods. Fruits and vegetables are almost always low in calories and fat, and they are generally very nutritious as well.

Since variety is so important to a healthy diet, it is a good idea to try out a sampling of different fruits and vegetables on your first healthy eating shopping trip. Start with some of the fruits and vegetables you have always wanted to try but never gotten around to. For instance, many people have never tasted asparagus, spinach or Brussels sprouts. While some love these foods and others hate them, you will never know unless you try them for yourself.

This kind of foraging is a great way to introduce yourself to foods you have never tried before. It is a great way to try new things, and you just might discover a new favorite food while you’re at it.

Experimenting with cooking all these exotic fruits and vegetables is another great idea. There are a ton of healthy cooking recipes and cookbooks on the market, and a new cookbook can be a great motivator for healthy eating.

It is important to remember that making your diet healthier does not necessarily mean making a radical change. Simple changes, like trimming the excess fat off of a steak, or substituting nonfat yogurt for sour cream on your baked potato, can go a long way toward enjoying a healthier lifestyle.

As a matter of fact, in the long run the simplest and easiest to follow changes are the ones that matter most. That is because making easy changes means that you will be able to stick with them for the long run. Healthy eating is a marathon, not a sprint.

Protecting Your Back

Creating and maintaining good posture decreases your risk of developing back problems. Achieving comfortable, good posture will provide a functional range of movement that will allow you to perform daily activities safely.

Even if your back feels OK at the movement, you may be straining it if you:

  1. Have poor posture.
  2. Move your body incorrectly.
  3. Are out of shape or overweight.

All of these strains add up until one day a simple act like bending over can bring on back pain.

When correctly aligned the back has three curves. It curves in (forward) at your neck (1), out in the chest region (2), and in again in the lower back (3). These curves help distribute pressure evenly throughout the vertebrae and discs.

Body mechanics is defined as the way in which you move your body and back. Good body mechanics includes lifting loads close to your body to reduce strain on your back and maintaining your three natural curves to keep your back in balance.


KEYS TO PROPER LIFTING

  1. Stand close to the object to be lifted.
  2. Spread your feet wide apart to straddle the object.
  3. Squat, bending your knees and hips, keeping your back in proper alignment.
  4. Contract your stomach muscles.
  5. Lift by using the work of your leg muscles, not your back.
  6. When lifting with another person, one person should say when to lift, walk and unload.
  7. Do not twist as you lift. Instead, pivot with your hips and shoulders in line and shift your weight.
  8. Mentally prepare, by planning what you are going to do.

KEYS TO PUSHING AND PULLING OBJECTS

  1. Push, don?t pull, whenever possible.
  2. Stay close to the object.
  3. Do not lean forward.
  4. Use both arms and tighten your stomach muscles.
  5. Never push or pull with a bent back.

KEYS TO PROLONGED STANDING

[Correct Standing Image]

  1. Change position often.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes and stand on a soft surface.
  3. Bring your work to a comfortable level, do not bend over it.
  4. Rest one leg on a stool to reduce stress on the back.

 


KEYS TO SITTING

  1. Sit in a chair that supports your lower back. If the chair does not support your back sufficiently, you can place a lumbar cushion (which can be bought at your local pharmacy) at the level of your low back, for added support.
  2. Position your chair so that your knees are at least as high as your hips when your feet are flat on the floor.
  3. Your desktop should be slightly above your waist.
  4. Sit close to your work, do not lean over it.
  5. Do not slump over while sitting.
  6. Take frequent breaks to get up and stretch.

[Correct Sitting Image] [Incorrect Sitting Image]


KEYS TO BENDING AND LEANING

  1. Let your legs do the work.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder length apart, one foot ahead of the other.
  3. Contract your stomach muscles.
  4. To lower you upper body, bend with your knees and hips, keeping your back in proper alignment. Rest one knee on the floor for extra support if needed.

KEYS TO DOING REPETITIVE MOVEMENTS

  1. Keep loads small if possible.
  2. Tighten your stomach muscles before lifting.
  3. Change positions frequently.
  4. Turn your entire body by taking little steps or pivoting, do not twist.

SUMMARY OF GOOD POSTURE

  1. Keep proper spinal alignment
  2. Bend knees
  3. Keep stomach muscles tight
  4. Use larger muscle groups
  5. Keep loads close to the body
  6. Maintain stability and balance throughout
  7. Mentally prepare and plan before lifting
  8. Avoid twisting

 

Keeping Your Abdominal Muscles in Shape

Although toned abdominal muscles may look attractive, they actually serve a very important role in helping to stabilize the back. When abdominal muscles are strong they can help stabilize the pelvis and lumbar spine when the hips flex by preventing an increase in lumbar lordosis.

Contracting the abdominals, especially the deep inner muscles, causes an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. The increased pressure pushes out against the back which helps the back to stabilize itself. This is helpful in everyday activities from lifting objects to playing sports.

The anterior and lateral trunk muscles consist of four muscles. These muscles are large sheaths arranged in layers with fibers running in different directions. Together they are responsible for trunk flexion, rotation, lateral bending, and aiding trunk stability.

The rectus abdominis is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles. It originates at the xiphoid process and costal cartilages 5-7 and inserts into the pubic crest and symphysis. It is easy to see on a person with developed abdominal musculature, it is sometimes referred to as a “six-pack.” The primary function of the rectus is that it acts as a trunk stabilizer and flexor.

The external abdominal oblique covers the abdomen anteriorly and laterally. This muscle originates from the external surface of the lower ribs and runs in a downward diagonal pattern as it inserts into the external lip of the opposite illiac crest. The muscle contracts unilaterally as it rotates the trunk to the opposite side.

The internal abdominal oblique helps to stabilize the trunk. This muscle lies under the external oblique, however the muscle?s fibers run in an upward diagonal pattern from the thoracolumbar fascia and the illiac crest to the lower three ribs and costal margins and to the pubis. This muscle contracts with the opposite side external oblique to rotate the trunk to the same side.

The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the abdominal muscles. The fibers which run in a transverse direction serve to enclose or compress the abdomen. The muscle originates at the lower ribs, thoracolumbar fascia, crest of the illium and inguinal ligament and inserts into an aponeurosis.

Exercises

To train and strengthen the abdominal muscles so that they may help to stabilize the back and pelvis, different exercises consisting of different movements must be done to target each muscle.

Pelvic tilt
This exercise is a subtle movement that will teach you the correct position your back should be in when doing abdominal exercises. Begin by lying on your back on a mat with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach and flatten your back into the floor. Your feet should remain flat on the floor while you hold this position for six seconds. Slowly release and roll back to the original position.
1 set of 10

Crunch
Lie on your back on a mat with knees bent, feet hip width apart and flat on the floor. Rest your hands behind your head. Tighten your stomach and lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Exhale as you lift up and hold for a count of two. Slowly lower down to the floor while inhaling. Do not pull your head up with your hands, leave your fingers resting lightly on your head.
1 set of 20

Reverse curl/crunch
Lie on your back on a mat with fingertips behind your head. Raise legs in the air with hips and knees both bent to 90 deg. (shins should be parallel to the floor). Simultaneously pull hips off the floor while contracting abdominals in a slow motion. Hold for two seconds and release.
20 reps

Oblique twist
Lie on your back on a mat with both knees bent at a 90 deg. angle (shins should be parallel to the floor). Fingertips behind the head and elbows pointed out. Extend right leg out while pulling left leg in toward your chest. Simultaneously raise your shoulders and twist your trunk so your right shoulder approaches your left knee. Hold for one second then repeat with opposite side.
Alternate for twenty reps (2 twists equals one rep)

When doing these exercises be conscientious about your form and technique. If you experience back pain, these exercises may not be ideal for you and you should discontinue the exercises. Be conscious of your posture, whether sitting or standing, use your abs to keep your back straight.

Fitness. Where Do You Stand?

bikersFitness is a term that is used to help define the ability to stay in the best physical shape.

You may ask, then, “What am I staying in shape for?” To each person, this will be something different.

For most, it is a matter of staying healthy as long as possible. You see, your body is designed to work as a machine. When each part of the machine is cared for, the entire machine works the best that it can. When the machine is neglected either in part or in the whole, then the machine won’t run well and eventually won’t run at all.

If a car, for example, is well maintained for many years, it will last many years longer. If it isn’t taken care of, for example you don’t change the oil in it, you cut several years off the life of the car. That’s costly to you, but when you look at this as your body, you are shaving away days, weeks, and even years off of your life when you don’t take care of your machine (your body.)

Fitness is a necessary part of life. Before we get on the soap box, remember that fitness is something that you can get into the habit of doing which makes it easy.

Fitness is not something that you have to struggle with. When you were three you were probably taught to brush your teeth. You learned to put your clothes on. When you were learning how to do them, you likely hated it. But, once you learned how to do it, it became something that you didn’t think twice about. Do you worry about brushing your teeth today? No, because it’s a habit. That’s what we want you to think of when you think of fitness.

It’s just something that you do. Granted, the first weeks of learning to be fit and staying healthy will be the hardest. You’ll dread it. You’ll find excuses about not doing it. You’ll claim that getting fit is just too hard. You just can’t give up what you love. That’s not true.
In fact, if you have the will power to save your life by sacrificing for just a few weeks, you’ll see that fitness can be easily mastered by you.

Our first goal is to determine where you stand right now. Don’t worry, this is painless, but it may hurt your ego a bit to do it. Nevertheless, it’s an important first step.

Where Are You Now?

Take a look at yourself right now. What do you see? If you are unhappy about any part of your body, chances are good that area of your body is bothering you because it’s an unhealthy area.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine where you stand right now

•    Do you have aches and pains in parts of your body that are not from an injury?
•    Do you have clothing that doesn’t fit parts of your body well?
•    Do you struggle to do physical activities? Do you avoid them because you know you can’t do them?
•    Are you unhappy with the way that your body looks? Do you avoid looking in the mirror?
•    Have you been told by your doctor, your family or others that you need to consider your fitness?

If so, then you need to begin by understanding that change needs to happen. There are several tools that you need to use to determine your health level currently. You can find calculators for many of these available to you free of charge on the web. You need to use them to understand exactly where you stand right now.

•    Your Blood Pressure: The pressure in which your heart pumps blood throughout your body. You need this number to be there, but it needs to be in a certain range to be healthy. For adults, this is generally 120 to 139/80 to 89. Ask your doctor where your blood pressure is.
•    Body Mass Index: Your BMI is a measure of the percentage of fat on your body. The higher this number is, the more prone to health risks you are.
•    Ideal Weight: In comparison to your height and body structure, your ideal weight is the weight that you should be, ideally.

These three things are critical elements for you to take into consideration when considering where you stand right now. But, there’s much more for you to consider. One thing that we want you to do besides getting the above information is to grab a tape measure and get one of the most important measurements out there: your waist.

Your waist is important because it is the indication on your body of your potential health risk. Those that have a larger midsection are most prone to health risks.

This is an important piece of information because of how vital it is to your health. Those that have a large midsection are the most prone to heart problems. The fat that is here will push into your body, causing difficulty for each organ there. Your kidneys, your lungs and even your heart are suppressed. In effect, the fat here is likely to be what kills you, if you are overweight.

What To Start With
To get started with fitness, start by getting through these basic first steps.

1.    Meet with your doctor to talk about your overall health. Ask him for measurements of your blood pressure, your heart rate as well as any other important factors he may be interested in you improving. Determine that you are healthy enough physically to begin improving through diet and exercise.
2.    Get your weight. Do this at home on a well programmed scale, not at your doctor’s office. Do it first thing in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom but before you have eaten. Do it the same time and same way every time you weigh yourself.
3.    Calculate your BMI. You need this to see just how unhealthy you are currently. It’s going to come down and that will be quite rewarding!
4.    Measure your waist. Stand up straight. Pull up your shirt, suck in your gut and measure at your belly button all the way around using a tape measure. This will be your indication of your weight loss and health improvement.
5.    Set your goals. Determine what’s important for you to maintain, to improve on, and to work on first. Write them down and post them in several locations in your home.

Now that you have this done, you can begin to improve your health. I’ll help you throughout the process!

Its Not Only For Weight Loss
Although many people start looking into fitness because they want to lose weight, fitness is not just about weight loss. By understanding where you stand on these factors above, you can work to improve your overall wellness and increase your lifespan as well as the quality of life that you are currently living.

If you don’t think that you need to lose weight, that’s great! You are one step closer to being healthy. But, that’s not to say that you don’t have health problems beyond that level. Many people are still at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol as well as other concerns even though they aren’t technically overweight. Therefore, you need to take into consideration the fact that overall health is in fact important to improve.

Throughout this book, we’ll point you in the direction of improving your overall health. For many that will mean losing weight. For others, that will mean improving other qualities of your life. There’s much to learn and improve on for most of us.

What You Will Learn
So, what will you learn in the next coming weeks?

•    Improving your body fitness
•    Improving your diet fitness
•    Improving your mind fitness
•    Improving your lifestyle fitness

Each of these aspects is quite important. While your body must be maintained as much as possible for health, it doesn’t do much good if you don’t eat the right foods. Losing weight, for example, isn’t enough if you aren’t eating the right foods even if you are losing weight.
With your mind fitness, we mean making sure you are emotionally and mentally fit. That means insuring that your overall life is healthy in regards to the life that you lead. Emotional stability is critical to overall health.

With lifestyle fitness, the goal is to improve your stress level. It has been shown that those that are under a lot of stress are often the most at risk for health problems due to the stress.
Throughout each of these aspects, we’ll teach you how to improve your life through easy, and even fun, ways. Because each plays a role in your overall health, we’ll tackle what the healthy standard is, help you to understand where you are and then help you to get to the goals that you have.

Since your body is likely to be your largest factor impacting your life, we will start there. Remember, each aspect is just as important as the next, though.