Tuesday, December 31, 2013

10 Simple New Year's Fitness Resolutions

When you start to notice that you need to lose a few extra pounds, want to get back in shape or just maintain your current level of fitness, you need to get yourself motivated. Since it's that time of year, here are 10 simple New Year's fitness resolutions to get you going.

1. Start a Fitness Plan: Talk to your doctor or a qualified personal trainer about what your fitness goals are. Decide if you want to join a gym or exercise on your own. Most gyms offer a free trial period in their facilities.

English: SAN DIEGO (Sept. 3, 2009) Fred Fusili...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. Make a Friend: Find someone to keep you motivated. You can find a partner to exercise with or just an online buddy to help you track your goals. Websites such as Spark and Livestrong can even help pair you up in groups with others.

3. Walk and Bike More: Park as far as you can from work, school or even the grocery store. Take the stairs whenever possible and for longer distances use a bike.

4. Drink More and Less: Try to drink more water, as much as you can possibly stand. The more water you drink the less hungry you will be. Try to cut out all alcohol and soda and cut down to just one juice a day.

5. Count Your Steps: Get a pedometer – note that even some smartphones have step counters. You can also get them at Walmart for under $10.

6. Eat In: Prepare your meals at home with fresh ingredients. You'll cut out preservatives and hidden calories. (See our Cooking From Scratch blog for weekly recipes, and cooking tips and articles.)

Healthy Food at Center for Total Health 34187
(Photo credit: tedeytan)
7. Count Calories - But Not Too Much: Keep a food journal of what you eat and an exercise journal of the activities you do each day and for how long you did them - but don't obsess about this one. Just making sure you are eating good, whole, healthy foods will go a long way towards helping you get (and stay) in shape, without having to obsess over calories.

8. Reward Yourself: Set goals and associate a reward for each of your goals. It could be anything from a piece of your favorite cake to a professional massage. Note: When giving yourself food rewards, keep it in moderation.

9. Take a Day Off: Once every two weeks give yourself a break. Take a day off from exercising and cheat a little bit on your diet. People who have periodic breaks tend to succeed more on their diet and exercise plans by not feeling so restricted.

10. Track Your Results: Take before and after pictures and chart your weight and measurements. Share your successes with others. Celebrate any change even if it's just an inch or a pound or two lost.

And last but not least, be sure to check this blog regularly for new, fun, and interesting workouts weekly!
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Video: Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred Workout - Level 1

If you want to check out the 30-Day Shred workout program we reviewed on Tuesday, check out the Level 1 workout here and give it a try. This is the full Level 1 workout, and includes a warm-up and cool down, plus cardio and strength training.

If you are a beginner, be sure to follow the beginner model, and go at your own pace, listening to your body. If anything hurts, don't do it! Be sure to follow Jillian's instructions to avoid injury. This is a pretty hardcore workout, so don't overdo it just starting out!*

You will need a set of hand weights, and an exercise mat.

This workout is only about 20 minutes, and it's a great way to get in shape for the New Year, without even having to go to the gym!

* Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new workout, especially if you are at a low fitness level.  

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred: Level 1
Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1 will burn fat with this interval training fitness system, combining strength, cardio, and abs workouts that blast calor...

More 30-Day Shred:
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred

People the world over are becoming more and more health conscious as our jobs increasingly require us to sit in a chair in front of a computer all day. It’s clear that our health suffers when we do so little physical activity, and as a result a huge industry has developed to help people get healthier through physical exercise.

The Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program is one of a number of fitness programs that aims to help people get into shape with the minimum amount of time spent exercising. This appeals both to those who are somewhat lazy and those who are very busy. So does it actually do the job? Let’s take a look.

Key Features For Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred

RRP: $14.98
Year of Release: 2008
Instructor: Jillian Michaels
Focus Areas: Strength, Cardio, and Abs

Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred: The Pros

1. 20 Minute Program: The Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program's biggest selling point is that the program is based entirely on a workout of no more than 20 minutes a day. That sounds like a dream come true to many people, and rightly so. Having to exercise for just 20 minutes a day is nothing.

Those who’ll benefit most from this are busy people who struggle to find the time to go to the gym, or even to do more typical kinds of workout at home. It’s not hard to set aside 20 minutes of your time each day no matter how busy you are, and that’s all this program asks of you.

This is also a benefit to those who are unmotivated or lazy and don’t like the idea of having to work out. Only taking up 20 minutes of your time each day, this is a far easier program both to get started with and to stick to in the long run than many longer workouts.

2. Short Bursts of Intensity: The program differs from others in that it uses a series of short bursts of intense activity to get the exercise done. That means that the 20 minutes which each workout lasts for can be pretty exhausting, but gets things over with quickly.

This kind of exercise keeps the workout varied, as you move from one exercise to the next fairly quickly. For those who get bored easily, this will be of definite benefit. However, short bursts of activity (interval training) are also known to be an excellent way to train for both stamina and strength. In short, this will get you fighting fit, and quick.

3. Different Levels: This program offers three different levels of intensity through three different workouts. That means you can ease into things, and then as you progress you can stretch yourself and work harder and harder so that you continue to improve.

It’s worth noting that even the beginner level is far from easy, and that’s true for veteran athletes as well as total novices. Although that means it can be a tough start, it also means that you don’t just whiz through the start, so you’re getting better value for the money.

An additional advantage of having several levels is that each level offers a different workout. That means you can switch things up to keep your workouts fresh, helping you to fend off the boredom that can often come when you get used to a workout.

4. It's Simple: Many novices are easily put off workout program because they’re complicated. However,  Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred is one of the easiest to follow, using simple yet effective techniques to target key areas of the body. Whatever your previous fitness experience, you should be able to follow this program without trouble.

Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred: The Cons

1. May Exacerbate Back And Knee Injuries: This is a serious point that all potential users should be aware of. The exercises in this program may make back and knee injuries worse, or could even cause them if proper form and technique are not followed. You should be very cautious, listen to your body while working out, and consult your physician before engaging in this program to make sure you are appropriately fit to start a fitness program of this intensity.

2. Requires Accessories: Okay, so this one may not be a big deal, but to do this workout you do need a couple of accessories. These are some small hand weights and, if you’re working out on a hard floor, a mat. Although these aren’t going to cost you much, you will want to be aware that they don't come with the DVD.

3. Loud Music: This will vary depending on your personal tastes, but the music can get annoying. Sure, it’s energetic and motivational, but it could get annoying if you don't like this kind of music. Dealing with annoying music shouldn’t stop you from working out, but it might demotivate you over time.

4. Limited Variety: If you need a lot of variety to keep you interested, this workout DVD may fall short. There is only one routine for each of the three levels, so in total you have three routines to choose from. That’s a very small number, and might not be enough for some.

Is Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred Worth Buying?

This is a great workout program that obtains results quickly without eating into your free time too much. You just need to be careful of your back and knees, as some of the exercises can put a lot of strain on them and may cause injury. With this in mind though, this is a program that can definitely be recommended for its motivational style and great results in a short amount of time.

You can find Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program in many stores as well as online via Amazon.com.


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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Video: Qigong Exercises for Energy & Stress Relief

I have been practicing Qigong (pronounced "Chi-Gung," or "Chi-Kung" - basically meaning energy mastery, or energy practice) for a couple of years now. It is a great stretching workout that takes your muscles, bones, and joints through their full range of motion, so it's great to do every day, or as a warmup for another workout.

But don't think of it as just your typical "workout"; like TaiChi, Quigong was designed as energy work, and it challenges the mind as much as the body. It is excellent for reducing stress and increasing your energy. Try this short exercise series anytime you need a quick pick-me-up, or use it to warm up or cool down after your favorite workout. It may just become one of your favorite parts of your day!

This short video demonstrates several different Qigong exercises, so you can see what it's like. If you enjoy these exercises, you can pick up my favorite DVD set on this unique method of physical and mental exercise at www.rocksolidvitality.com.

Qigong Workout
Qigong teacher John Du Cane, of DragonDoor.com, demonstrates the stress-busting workout he designed for the October issue of Experience Life. Watch as he sho...

Click Here to Learn More About Qigong...

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

5 Safe, Simple & Natural Ways To Boost Your Energy Levels

Our increasingly busy lifestyles both in and out of work are placing more demands on us than ever. All of this extra strain can really wear us out, and people are complaining of low energy levels in ever-growing numbers. Around the holidays, with all the extra activity, it can be especially tough!

Finally my energy levels picking up -Bleurgghh...
(Photo credit: ultimatephili)
If you’re one of the many people who feel affected by low energy levels, then no doubt you’ll be wondering if there’s anything you can do to change this. Although doctors can offer medication to help with some energy level problems, and if your adrenal glands are depleted from too much coffee and lack of sleep supplements may help, but there are actually natural ways of improving your energy levels that don’t require a trip to the doctor or any special drugs or pills.

The following 5 ways of increasing your energy levels are all simple and natural. None of them is a guaranteed method, but there’s a good chance that by using all of these approaches you’ll experience at least some benefit.

1) Sleep: It might seem completely obvious, but getting enough sleep is essential to having good energy levels. What many of us may think is good sleep is often actually inadequate. Although the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, for most the optimal amount of sleep is 8 hours. This period of sleep should be as uninterrupted as possible. There are many ways of improving the quality of your sleep which you can easily learn about through searching online - or on our blogs.

2) Exercise: You might think that exercise simply tires you out, but getting regular exercise can have a profound effect on your energy levels. By engaging in regular exercise, you improve your physical fitness, giving you greater stamina which means you can carry out activities for longer without getting tired as quickly. (For lots of fun ways to get that workout in, be sure to check this blog regularly!)

3) Meal Skipping: One of the worst things you can do for your energy levels is to skip meals. Your body gets its energy from the food you eat, so eating less food means having less energy. And if you really must skip a meal, make sure it’s not breakfast. By the time you wake up in the morning it will already have been a long time since you ate dinner, and skipping out on breakfast only increases this. That’s a long time to go without a source of energy for your body!

I'd say it's half full ... Unlike my energy levels
Regular exercise relieves stress & boosts energy. (Photo credit: servantofchaos)
4) Stress: Another big factor in energy levels is stress. Feeling stressed can drastically decrease your energy levels making it difficult to stay focused or even awake. Find ways to reduce your stress and you will almost certainly see an improvement in your energy. Exercise is one great way to reduce stress levels. Another useful stress-busting tip is to make lists of the things you need to do tomorrow not long before bed. It can help clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts and worries.

5) Eat Small: Although it’s important not to miss meals, in order to keep your energy levels at their peak it’s actually better if you don’t have 3 big meals per day… Instead, you should eat more than three meals of a smaller size throughout the day. This gives your body a steadier energy supply, preventing the yoyo-ing of energy levels that we’re all familiar with.

By following these 5 simple tips, you can reduce your stress levels, improve your health, and have plenty of energy for all the holiday activities you've got going on this season!
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Video: 20-Minute Total Body Toning Workout

This fun 20-minute workout combines cardio and toning exercises for a fast-paced workout that will work your entire body from head to toe - from butt and thighs, to abs, core, back, arms, shoulders, and more. Each exercise is only done for a few seconds at a time, which keeps it interesting, and keeps you moving. A warmup and cool down are included in the 20 minutes. This is a great workout for men or women that only takes a few minutes and really gets results - you'll want to add this one to your regular rotation!*

You will need the weights shown below, plus a yoga or non-slip mat.

* Note: Be sure to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or trainer before beginning any new workout, especially if you are starting at a low level of fitness. Use caution and listen to your body when doing any workout. If something hurts or feels wrong, stop, and adjust your technique if necessary, or skip that particular exercise.

BeFiT GO: 20 Min Total Body Toning Workout
This is an intense, full body-sculpting cardio circuit workout set to some of today's hottest workout music, that is de...

Equipment You'll Need for This Workout:
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners: Do They Live Up To The Hype?

Toning sneakers have been around for several years now, but it's only in the last year or two that their popularity has really soared. Although there are many brands on the market, Skechers Women's Shape-Ups toners are still the most popular and are selling in huge numbers everywhere. But are they worth spending your hard-earned cash on?

The Basic Features of Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners

English: This is the corporate logo of Skecher...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These are specially designed sneakers that promise to help you tone up faster, burn more calories, and improve your posture. Some of the main features include:

* Antibacterial sock liner to increase breathability and avoid moisture build up,
* A "kinetic wedge" in the sole that rocks back and forth to force your muscles to work harder as you walk,
* Rubber tread to maximize traction.
* Available in traditional sneaker style with lace up front, and in a wide range of colors.
* Designed for extreme comfort while walking, with lower impact on the joints.

How Do Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners Work?

First things first, how do these sneakers actually work to help you tone up more quickly? It's understandable to be skeptical when it comes to anything that claims to help you lose weight faster!

Skechers claim that you can burn more calories thanks to the curved design of the shoe, and that the instability created by the "kinetic wedge" will make your muscles work harder in order to stay balanced. The end result? More toned calves, thighs and buttock muscles.

Independent studies have confirmed that the design of the shoe may have an effect on your workouts, and will help to increase muscle activity as long as you use them. Other studies have concluded that the shoes simply motivated people to work out more than usual - so the evidence is still inconclusive.

Where the shoes have usually seen greatest results is in improvement of posture which can help to make your workouts more effective on its own.

What Customers Are Saying About These Toning Sneakers

The sales numbers speak volumes: Skechers have a number of very happy customers who are coming back to buy even more pairs of these sneakers. Although many buy them for the toning benefits, and claim that they have noticed results when wearing them. One reviewer even tested the shoes while doing housework and noticed that she was aching when she finished!

However, many customers buy the shoes simply for their comfort and reduced impact on the joints. They've found that it helps to make exercise and day to day walking more comfortable for them.

Skechers Women's S2 Lite Shape Ups Lace-Up Fashion Sneaker
Are There Any Complaints?

The main complaint of the first series of Skechers Shape-Ups was that they looked noticeably different to standard sneakers. The good news is that there is now a large range of sneakers that look just like any other kind of sneaker, so you won't automatically stand out while you wear these shoes for your day to day walking. Most customers state that the shoe feels slightly odd and unnatural to wear at first, due to the rocking motion, but that you quickly get used to them.

Aside from this, the main complaint of the new style is that they run slightly small - you may need to order a size larger than you normally wear.


Thanks to the new styles available, Skechers Women's Shape-Ups Toners are now more accessible to a wider range of women who want something that looks like a traditional sneaker. Although they do cost more than many sneakers, they're worth it if you're looking for something comfortable that will improve your posture and may help you to tone up faster than normal.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Video: Rock-Climbing Exercises for Building Strength

On Tuesday we talked about rock climbing - a fun and novel way to exercise that many people haven't tried yet. It may look intimidating when you see all those pictures of tiny climbers way up on huge cliffs, but actually there are lots of helpful programs out there to get you started climbing even if you are a complete beginner, and have never climbed so much as a tree before. You can even get started at a local gym on a beginner-level indoor climbing wall with the help of a trained professional.

But whether you're just starting out, or have climbed many times before, it is important to keep building your strength. Rock climbing is an intense form of exercise that works your entire body, and in order to progress to more difficult climbs, you will need to increase your fitness level, and the strength of many different muscle groups.

This short video shows you how to do pull-ups to start building your upper body strength, which is essential for rock climbing. Even if you're a total beginner with very little upper body strength to start with, this video gives you some tips for building up your strength so you can move on to the full pull-up, so don't be too intimidated to try! He also shares tips for improving your strength at intermediate and advanced levels as well.

Rock Climbing Exercises - Building Rock Climbing Strength Training - Lesson 1
http://RockClimbTips.com Part 1 of rock climbing exercises you can do at home to become a stronger climber. This workout focuses on increasing your pull-up s...

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rocking It: Six Reasons to Try Rock Climbing for Exercise

As children many of us enjoy climbing. However, climbing isn’t just for children, and taking up climbing as a hobby and form of exercise could be great for you. Here are some of the top reasons why rock climbing could be your next big passion, and why so many people make it a part of their lives.

Our last climb of the day
Our last climb of the day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Get Outdoors: Rock climbing can get you outdoors, and often takes you to some really beautiful places. You could find yourself in a local valley, at a national park, or even somewhere on the other side of the world. There is great climbing to be done just about everywhere!

As an outdoor activity, rock climbing also ties in well with other hobbies such as camping and canoeing. You could happily spend a day paddling up a river to a climbing spot, enjoying a challenging climb, and then paddling back to your camp at the end of a great day’s climbing - now that's a full day of exercise.

2. Exercise Indoors: Although rock climbing is more common as an outdoor activity, you can also enjoy it in indoor environments. Many gyms and public sports centers have climbing facilities. This is great for those who don’t have time to get to natural climb spots, or who live in the middle of a big city. It’s also useful for those times when the weather outside is bad.

3. Graded for Difficulty: Rock climbing routes are graded. This indicates how difficult the climb is likely to be. As a climber, you will start out only able to tackle the lowest graded routes. However, with time you’ll improve and be able to tackle harder routes. This grading system allows you to gauge your progress, helping you to recognize your improvement and that of your friends, and feel a sense of accomplishment.

4. Can Be Non-Competitive: Generally, rock climbing is a non-competitive sport. The only person you usually compete against is yourself – to see if you can go that bit further and harder. This makes it a more mentally relaxed pursuit, even though it’s one of the most physically demanding of all sports. Generally all you have to worry about is you and the rock. This makes it therapeutic, helping you to stay focused and stop thinking about the stresses of your daily life.

5. Can Also Be Competitive: While much rock climbing is non-competitive, there are competitive options for those who are interested. Competitions are usually held at indoor locations. Climbers compete in rounds, and are judged on speed, point-reached and various other indicators. If you're a natural competitor, you may want to try out a competition once you get the hang of things. This will bring more fun to your climb!

Rock Climbing 101
Rock Climbing 101 (Photo credit: Ann Arbor District Library)
6. Fitness: In addition to the outright fun that rock climbing offers, it also improves fitness. Climbing itself is strenuous, and will challenge you whether you are a beginner or have become quite advanced. It uses all of the muscles in your body – from the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers and everything in between! Your legs, glutes, core, chest, shoulders, back, and arms will all be put to the test.

After a certain point, you’ll probably need to start a training program in order to continue to improve your climbing. Having lots of endurance as well as all-round body strength are essential to advanced climbing.

These are just a few of the reasons why so many people today enjoy rock climbing as part of their lifestyle, and why you should consider taking up rock climbing yourself. It’s great fun, challenging, good for the mind and great for the body. What have you got to lose? Go ahead and give it a go, and try one more new, fun way to exercise this year!

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