Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fitness and Nutrition


I’ve been thinking about starting to record workout videos for YouTube. If you’re into watching fitness videos on YouTube and haven’t yet discovered Sara’s Fab Channel or DietHealth, go check it out. Now. Really. Stop reading this and go check out those videos. I love Sara Dussault. She looks like a real person. And I’m not trying to use a euphemism for fat or chubby or whatever. What I mean is that she’s not super skinny like a lot of the fitness instructors you see on YouTube. She’s toned, but she has curves! She’s not afraid to eat cake! I love her. She’s also got a great video personality. I obviously don’t know her personally, but she seems really nice. I think it would be fun to make videos like her. But I don’t think I know enough about fitness or nutrition to make enough videos. I know the basics. So I’ll just share some of that with you right now.

To those of you who are trying to lose weight: CARDIO, CARDIO, CARDIO!!! It’s so important! You should be doing cardiovascular exercise 2-3 times a week at first and slowly work up to 5-6 times per week. There are so many things you can do for cardio exercise. Running is the one that most people think of at first, because it is a great workout. But if you have joint problems, it may not be the workout for you. The elliptical trainer is also a great choice, as well as the stair master and the stationary bike. If you don’t want to workout in a gym, or you can’t afford a gym membership, go play outside! Go for a bike ride outside. If you have kids or a dog, they are an endless source of energy; they’ll motivate you to play for hours. You don’t even realize that you’re working out, because you’re having so much fun. Another cardio idea that’s exercise in disguise is Zumba, or any dance cardio. So many people love to dance and don’t realize that you could break a sweat doing it. Zumba is my personal favorite. Anyone who knows me knows how much I rave about it. With cardio, if you are a beginner at working out, I suggest starting at 10 minute sessions and working up to 30 minutes. After that, if you think you can go longer without injury or wearing yourself out, go longer! But don’t exceed an hour unless it’s low-impact cardio like basketball or other sports.

When it comes to fitness, you want a routine that you can keep up for the rest of your life. You want to find a weight that you can maintain for your lifetime. So your fitness plan should change often. Remember: “variety is the spice of life.” My workout routine changes all the time. This quarter, I’m taking an aerobics class on Mondays and Wednesdays and each class is different. Sometimes we do kickboxing, sometimes step aerobics, or even power yoga. On the days that I don’t have class, I go to the gym and exercise on one of the fitness machines either the stair master (where I can flip through a magazine without getting a headache) or running on the treadmill (especially if I have new workout music like Britney Spears’s new album Femme Fatale!). Then I mix it up with strength training. However, if you’re new to working out and trying to lose weight, strength training is important but not as much as cardio. I won’t focus on it in this entry. Because of my school routine, I usually go easier on the weekends if I work out at all. Sometimes I’ll dance around in my room for 20 minutes or randomly do squats while I watch TV. I keep it consistent in that I work out AT LEAST 4 times a week, but I try to go for 5-6 times a week. You need that 7th day for your body to recuperate! If you really must exercise, go for a long walk, but there’s no need to push yourself. But I’m not consistent in the actual type of exercises that I do. If I did the same thing all the time, do you know how bored I’d get? You would, too! And who wants to force themselves to do something boring? Who is going to keep that up for the rest of their life? Not me. If you can do the same exercises until you die and that’s what works for you, go for it. I commend you. But I’ll pass on it.

Obviously, nutrition is another piece of the weight loss/maintenance puzzle. There are a lot of rules by which I live: Don’t restrict excessively (some restriction is necessary… if I could get away with it, I’d eat Kit Kat bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner), utilize the 80-20 rule (eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time), your plate should be as naturally colorful as possible (that means vegetables! There are so many kinds of vegetables out there; find a few that you like and eat them on a regular basis), and DON’T DIET!!! Diets don’t work, unless you plan on sticking to it for the rest of your life, you won’t keep that weight off. Most people who go on a diet and lose weight will gain that weight back AND MORE when they get off the diet; then they go on another diet! This is what the professionals call “yo-yo dieting”. It’s bad for your health. You get frustrated and angry and depressed, which can lower your immune system. It decreases the elasticity of your skin, which can lead to premature wrinkles. It messes with your metabolism and the homeostasis of your body. It’s just bad. Don’t do it. The better choice is to slowly make lifestyle changes. For example, I quit drinking soda. I used to have a couple cans of it PER DAY! That’s an extra 280 calories that went unnoticed by me. When I stopped drinking soda, over the course of the year, I lost 10lbs. Some of that lost weight had to do with working out more and eating better, but I’m sure if I started drinking soda like I used to, I’d gain some weight back. Another change to make is switching to whole grains. And of course, this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: DO NOT SMOKE!!! It’s not really advice to lose weight, its just advice to live longer. Did you know that smoking is the greatest cause of the preventable death in the United States??? Smoking leads to an early death, and not a very pleasant death either. I know I don’t want to die of lung cancer…





So I think you get the point for now. I recommend using sparkpeople.com for your weight loss/maintenance needs, like a nutrition and fitness tracker as well as a lot of great articles for your personal health and wellness information. I’ve been using it off and on for the past few years. I usually start using it if I feel like I’ve gained some weight and it helps me get back on track. Also, start using YouTube to find some great work out videos that you can follow, like Sara’s Fab Channel and Diet Health. The Internet is a vast well of information of which you should take advantage! The knowledge is out there! So there is no excuse not to start getting healthy. I try to be there for my friends when they need some advice or have to ask me a question about this topic, but I can’t answer everything. For one thing, I don’t know everything. And for another, there is so much conflicting information out there, it’s important to look at as many different views as possible. Do your research. But there are certain things, on which most people agree: cardiovascular activity is necessary for maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy heart and eat a proper diet to assure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to survive. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Good luck on your journey towards a healthy lifestyle!

Check out this video from YouTube from Sara Dussault's channel! 

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