Exercise can become habit

Make exercise a habit today. Once you’ve fallen out of the habit of exercising on a daily or weekly basis, getting back into the routine can be brutal. Even when you know working out would lead to more energy and a toned beach body, it can be hard to make yourself get off the couch and head back to the gym or yoga studio.  Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to take that first step in the right direction. Reminding yourself of the many health benefits of exercise, setting weight-loss goals, or picturing how you want to look in your wedding dress or tuxedo can help get you in the right mindset. Then it’s all about finding time to fit in workouts and sticking to that schedule as much as possible to build new habits.

How to get there

Here is a great example of how to make exercise a habit that needs to be understood by those reading this post.  I have a friend who within two years went from 240 pounds to 180 – a net loss of 60 pounds! How did he do it? He made drastic changes to his lifestyle, both in diet and exercise.  He did not kill himself in the gym, merely got on the treadmill and power walked his way slowly until he was able to do 50 minutes at a 12-degree incline, peaking at 4.2 miles per hour. He religiously did this three times a week. It became such a habit that he was able to incorporate it into his weekly routine and it became second nature.  He stopped drinking beer and all sugary beverages.  He adopted a diet that was more agreeable to his body.

Hurricanes can make one exercise without knowing it

Then, a category five hurricane hit and the gym closed for a month.  All of the dietary sacrifices went out the window!  Due to food shortages at supermarkets, he was forced to now eat processed meats, canned goods, and other foods which had been given up long ago.  Bananas, apples, oranges, nuts, vegetables, lean meats and other essential food groups were in short supply.   The days were extremely hot and humid, temperatures peaking at 106 degrees due to the deforestation caused by the hurricane.  Potable and drinking water was also a precious commodity.

So how did he stay in shape? There was plenty of manual work to do during the recovery after the hurricane!  There was plenty of debris to collect and carry away. Gasoline and diesel containers had to be negotiated every day, sometimes several times per day.  The work was intense and sweating profuse.  His place of work was flooded and he spent many hours bailing out water, throwing away more debris until mountains of trash accumulated outside his workplace. When he was able to work out, he followed these simple exercises which did not require his trusted treadmill.  The family organized itself and cooked on a small gas stove.  Small generators were obtained to keep refrigerators running a few hours per day.

When all was said and done, he had actually lost more weight due to the unintended exercise.  Perhaps the anxiety of a bad situation and the survival mode one had to go into was a factor. But this is just an extreme situation, which shows that it can be done!

Make a deal with yourself to start todexerciseay. Go on a short run or a long walk, sign up for a weekly kickboxing or yoga class, or turn on a brief fitness video. Carving out a few minutes per day is the perfect way to ease yourself into a regular routine again. Before you know it, you’ll be pushing yourself to work out a few minutes longer or run another mile farther. You may even find that you crave those workouts and the “me time” and chance to clear your mind that they provide.  Even in times of distress, our bodies will continue to try to accommodate routines that benefit our overall well-being.

 

Exercises which Burn More Calories

In this post we talk about five exercises which burn more calories.   Isolating muscles is so outdated. Unless you’re rehabbing from an injury or working to strengthen a weaker part of your body, the rule of thumb should be to work as many muscles as possible with each exercise (while of course maintaining good form). The more muscles you can incorporate into each set, the more effective and efficient your workout will be.

You don’t need more time to work out; you just need more intensity in your exercises. By swapping these five simple exercises, you can maximize your effort and calorie burn while minimizing your time spent at the gym.

Squats instead of the leg press machine

While a leg press is good for isolating your quads, it leaves something to be desired as a total-body routine. The truth is you have to add so much more weight on a leg press machine to get the same effect that squatting vertically would have. And whereas the leg press includes little to no stabilizer muscle involvement (because the machine gives you total upper body support), squatting forces you to recruit those stabilizer muscles groups in order to complete each rep. That is, your hip adductors (inner thighs) to keep your knees spaced shoulder-width apart, as well as your ab muscles to hold your torso in place as the knees bend. Talk about a full body exercise. Don’t forget to keep the knees right on top of the heels as you squat down for less pressure on the joints and you’ll really feel those hamstrings and glutes fire.

Squat exercises

Plank on a BOSU ball instead of crunch exercises

In terms of overall total body effectiveness, we all know that the plank is superior to the crunch. By holding your entire body in an isometric contraction you’re strengthening everything from your abs and glutes to your legs, back, and chest. But we’re cranking it up a little further. Adding some sort of balancing factor to your plank’in this case a BOSU ball will have your whole body, especially your core, feeling the burn in no time. Simply place your forearms on the rounded side while you do your plank. You can also try them with your arms on the flat side. Once you master holding your BOSU ball plank for at least 30 seconds, start adding in some variations slow mountain climbers and then adding a twist to the opposite side as you bring the knee into the chest are just a few to get your mind working. Any variation after that is fair game. Get creative!

Plank exercise

Pull-ups instead of bicep curls

Despite popular opinion, a pull up is a much more effective way of targeting those guns than a typical curl would be. Plus, with a pull-up, you’re working your entire upper body and engaging your core muscles too. The key is intensity. You can’t cheat a pull up; you either got it or you don’t.  And don’t get discouraged if you can only muster one or two to start, know that you are still exhausting your muscles and therefore building strength. If the thought of even one seems daunting, try wrapping a resistance band around the bar and hook your feet (or bent knees) into it for some assistance getting up. Then, once you become more proficient you can take the band away and start to add more repetitions to your exercises.

Pull-up exercisesPull-up exercises

VersaClimber instead of the bike

If you are one of those people who loves to sit on the bike and occupy your upper body with a book or magazine while your lower body does all the work, listen up. Cardio success is not about the number of calories burned during your 45-minute session. It’s about elevating your heart rate enough for a prolonged period of time (about 20 minutes at 80% or higher) to achieve the “afterburn” effect, boosting your metabolism so you continue to burn additional calories throughout that day and the next. The VersaClimber is a great option because it incorporates upper and lower body movements at the same time, which not only keeps you engaged in the workout but also means you can cut your time spent on the machine in half. So, give it a try. In addition to preventing boredom, switching up your cardio routine will keep your body guessing and you on track to achieving your fitness goals.

Versaclimber exercises

Dumbbell bench routine instead of traditional bench press

Contrary to popular belief, the bench press is not the best move for the upper body. While it may do a good job of isolating a few specific muscles, using two dumbbells instead of the traditional bar will increase your range of motion and recruit more muscles in the shoulders and back as well. Not only that, but you can add some core work into the equation by alternating arms one at a time to challenge your balance and force those abs to join the party. If you really want to kick it up a notch, try switching out the bench for a Swiss Ball and get some more stabilizers involved!

Swiss Ball exercises