All posts by Donna Wilczek

Resistance Training is for EVERYONE

Why Train With Weights?
You’ve heard the phrase: “The strongest shall survive” right? Well it not only applies to competitive athletes, but to everyone, men, women and children of all ages.

Studies have shown that men and women in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have reversed their immobility and increased their quality of life through exercising with light weights.

Increase Bone Density
Using resistance increases bone density, decreasing your risk for osteoporosis and even reversing the effects of osteoporosis. Women tend to lose upper body strength after the children have gotten too big to be picked up and carried around, so it’s important to maintain that strength through resistance exercise. It’ll help maintain bone density in the upper spine too.

Equipment Types
You could use a home gym type of fitness equipment, or a bowflex type or even a crosstrainer type of equipment, but free weights are really the best. This means using dumb bells or plates on bars to ‘resist’ against your muscles, making them work and grow strong. Also, using your body weight as resistance works well, this is part of the theory behind Pilates type of mat exercise.

Reduce Body Fat
Even if your goal is to lose weight – just working out with 5 pound dumbells burns calories, but also the muscle they create burns calories even when you’re not working out. Plus, you’ll want to be sure to have those muscles toned up for after you lose the weight, so you will look firm and tight, not flabby and loose.

Tone Your Muscles
If you’re relatively thin, but just want to fill out your clothes better, resistance training is the only way to go. Light dumb bells firm up the muscle tissue just enough to make you look fit.

Achieve Your Goal
Whether your goal is to lose weight, tone muscles or grow big bulky muscles, you will need to do some type of resistance training.

The Healthy Effects of Red Wine

 Over the past ten years there have been numerous studies on the healthy effects of red wine, which we’ve heard snipets about on the news or read about in the paper.  My clients sometimes ask me about it, so I’ve looked into it.  My own research has determined that there are three particular types of wine that produce those positive benefits.  They are:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir, in that order.   The benefits include:  reducing ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and reducing harmful blood clots.  All are obviously good for your cardiovascular system. 

The studies identified specific amounts too.  For women it’s one 4 ounce glass per day, and for men it’s one or two 4 ounce glasses per day.  The studies also point out that this applies to ‘otherwise healthy individuals’.  Which means that if you already have cardiovascular disease, or any other disease including alcoholism, you should not assume that you will reap the same benefits and should speak with your treating physician about it.

Researchers have also found that the antioxidant in red wine inhibits tumor development in some cancers and aided in nerve cell formation, which can be helpful in treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Most recent studies, identified one more area: liver disease.

Researchers determined that one glass of red wine a day may reduce the the odds of a liver disease known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by 50%.  This is a relatively new development, so we may be hearing much more about it in the future.

 

What about setting fitness goals?

 

When you really think about it, getting ready to start an exercise program should be like starting up any serious change in your life.  If you were starting a new business, you would set goals and if you were starting a project around the house, you would set goals.  Sometimes they would be formal and written down, other times they would just be a thought process you went through in your mind.  Either way, it should be done when beginning an exercise regimen. 

Goal setting 101 teaches us to think in terms of short term goals and long term goals, and they are both important to keeping an exercise regimen going. 

First, in the short term, you could say in 30 days, I’m going to be down five pounds or my waistband will be much loser than it is today.   You need to set either a date or state the number of days, weeks or months specifically.  This way you have your ‘check in’ points along the way.  Also, you want to be more specific than saying ‘lose weight’.  You want to state the number of pounds, or a marker such as your waistband tightness.  You don’t need to think in terms of weight loss only.  You could say, since I can use the five pound dumb bells today, in 30 days I want to be strong enough to use eight pound dumb bells.

Now, once your time frame and specific goal is set, it’s time to put a plan in place on achieving that goal.  So if your plan is to lose five pounds, it’s time to set parameters on your eating habits, as well institute an aerobic routine with some resistance training for toning too.  If your goal is to increase to eight pounds dumb bells, it’s time to institute a plan for getting stronger through resistance training.

Now, at the first check point, whether it  be 30 days, or some other time frame, you take a look to see if you’ve achieved your short term goal.  If yes, it’s time to set the next goal, if no, then go back to your plan and find out why it failed.  Was it the plan or was it you not following the plan?

Second, you need to add in a long term goal.  Now thinking in terms of months and years – what do you want to be doing, or what do you want to be wearing?   This could be a wedding date, a vacation date or just that you want to be in shape to keep up with your grandchildren. 

With having that long term goal in mind, you are able to continue to set short term goals to reach it. 

Can you do this on your own?  Do you need help?  Remember I’m here to help you.

 

Do you know what to do?

Do you know what to do when you reach a plateau?  Let’s say you’ve been eating healthy and working out for 3 months. During those 3 months you saw continuous weight loss and you’re now down 12 pounds, but have not seen any additional weight loss for two weeks.  What’s going on and what do you do about it?

I get this question quite often, the simple answer is:  ‘step it up a notch’.   Your body becomes accustomed to exercise in anywhere from 1 to three months of doing it.  Once that occurs, your body sees no need to make anymore changes as it’s meeting your regular needs. 

So nows the time to step it up a notch.  If you’re using 5 pound dumb bells, increase them to 7.  If you’re running on the treadmill or the elliptical for 30 minutes, increase it to 40 or raise the level of the program.  

Once you do this, you should begin to see changes once again, as your body will adapt to the increased stresses you’re putting on it.

Just a word of caution, not too much too quickly.  That’s how we get hurt and lose our interest in exercise, and that’s the last thing you want to see occur.

So have at it and have fun doing it!

Aerobic Training, another major component of exercise…

Aerobic training or cardio training is one of the three major elements of a good quality fitness routine.  It can be the most important for certain groups of people.  It’s the one way to reduce cholesterol, and the major way to drive down blood sugar on a regular basis for diabetics.  It’s important for those with any type of heart disease (with your doctors blessing of course) to increase cardiovascular fitness and strengthen the heart muscle.  It’s important for everyone to do in order to burn calories and to strengthen and maintain a strong heart muscle.  It also helps to reduce stress, you can actually feel your frustrations melt away with the sweat coming out of your pores!

To make the best of your aerobic workout you need a heart rate monitor.  To calculate your aerobic range, which is 60%  to 85% of your maximum heart rate, you deduct your age from 220, then take that number which is your maximum heart rate and multiply it by .60 and .85 arriving at your aerobic range.  Using the heart rate monitor, exercise with your heart rate between those two numbers for a minimum of 30 minutes three times per week.  As your heart becomes stronger, you should work up to four times per week, or go to 45 minutes three times per week to get the best results. 

You can use a road bike or a stationary bike, the streets or the treadmill or any of those machines lining the walls of the gym, just choose your favorites and get going!  Just for fun try every one of the machines for 10 minutes each the next time you’re at the gym.

 

Yet another reason to exercise…

I just finished reading an article in Time magazine that described a study that proved exercise improves memory.  The article began by explaining that the memory loss we all experience beginning in middle age is normal (I’m happy to hear).  Initially it was a research completed on rats that showed exercise produced new neurons in the brain.  The research was then tried on humans, one hour on the treadmill four times per week proved to increase blood volume in the brain.  Those same people went through memory tests before and after, and there you have it – better memory!  It was aerobic exercise specifically, so get your heart rate up often.

WALKING AS EXERCISE – USE A PEDOMETER

Walking is great exercise, it’s gets you out doors to (hopefully) fresh air, it strengthens your legs and calves, it keeps your hip, knee and ankle joints well lubricated, it improves circulation, it builds stamina, improves your mood by reducing stress, you can meet new people, and it BURNS CALORIES – that’s the important part. Since you’re burning calories, you’re losing weight, you’re increasing the strength of your heart muscle and you’re getting healthier and healthier.

Using a pedometer can really be a benefit to getting exercise through walking. Studies have shown that we walk an average of 5000 to 5500 steps per day, and that 10,000 steps per day is where you see the most benefit. 10,000 steps is equal to about 5 miles for the average stride. Just having the pedometer hooked to your belt loop will be the reminder to keep moving, or to take the stairs, or to go out and walk during your lunch break at work.

I advise my clients to keep a log of the information their pedometer gives them at the end of each day. It includes the date, number of steps, miles, calories burned and a space for any notes for that day. The notes area can be helpful to track why there was a significant difference, either fewer or more steps on a given day.

Here are some ways to add steps to your day – remember your goal is 10,000:

  • Park in the far back of the parking lot at work, or at store lots
  • If you take a bus, get off the bus a few stops before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way
  • Take the stairs
  • Pace while waiting for meetings to start or while making phone calls
  • Get up and walk around during commercial breaks
  • Do not use drive throughs, park and walk in – better yet stay away from places that have drive throughs the food is no good for you
  • Dedicate a few minutes to walking each hour
  • Walk during your lunch break
  • Form a workplace, neighborhood or friends walking group
  • Make a family habit of walking in the morning or after dinner (or both)
  • Take advantage of 5k charity walks so you have company while walking
  • Take an extra trip up and down your stairs, just for fun
  • Bring your groceries into the house one bag at a time
  • Take the dog for a walk, they’ll love you for it. Take your neighbors dog for a walk if you don’t have one!
  • Pace while waiting for a meal to heat in the microwave
  • Use the lavatory at work that is furthest from your desk

Go ahead, add more bullet points, there are plenty of ways to add walking to your daily life!

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO VOTED FOR ME…

Well I’m finally touching base once again, I have to, I need to THANK everyone who made it possible for me to be named the BEST FITNESS INSTRUCTOR in the Hippo Press “Best of 2008” survey. This is a thrilling experience for me, and all my current and past clients made it happen. The writers made a couple of mistakes, though. One on the spelling of my last name, which is common, but they also didn’t include my telephone number. I’ve been promised that it’ll be corrected for the “Best of” magazine being published next week, and hopefully corrected on the Hippo’s website. I may even have some pictures of me in the magazine, even more exciting! Thank you all, once again, for voting for me.

What should I buy at the grocery store?

This is a question I get a lot, so here is the grocery list I put together.  You can copy and paste it to your hard drive and print it to take with you when you shop.  There are some basic rules, which I bulleted at the end of the second page.  For the most part, you need to avoid certain isles in the store.  It’s best to just shop the perimeter isles, except for the health food isles.  Also, when you need canned, dry or bottled items, check the ingredients for sugar and partially hydrogenated oils and do not buy them if it’s listed.

GROCERY LIST

APPLES
ORANGES
PEACHES
CHERRIES
CRANBERRIES
PLUMS/NECTARINES
MANGOS
PINEAPPLE
BANANAS
FIGS
LEMONS/LIMES
BLUEBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES (FROZEN OKAY TOO)
FRUIT SORBET (NO SUGAR ADDED)
NON FAT/LOW FAT FROZEN YOGURT

PLAIN COLE SLAW (PRE-MADE IN BAG)
ROMAINE LETTUCE
CELERY
CARROTS
SWEET POTATOES
SQUASH
MUSHROOMS
GREEN PEPPERS/RED PEPPERS/YELLOW PEPPERS
EGGPLANT
TOMATOES
FRESH OR FROZEN GREEN VEGETABLES: BROCCOLI, BRUSSEL SPROUTS, GREEN BEANS, SPINACH, ETC
GARLIC
ONIONS

OLIVES
ARTICHOKE HEARTS
BLACK BEANS
SUN DRIED TOMATOES (NO OIL)
TOMATO SAUCE (NO SUGAR IN INGREDIENTS)
LENTILS
WHITE BEANS

GREEN TEA BAGS
BOTTLED WATER

TUNA FISH PACKED IN SPRING WATER

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
NEWMAN’S OWN OIL & VINEGAR DRESSING
BALSAMIC VINEGAR
HONEY
MUSTARD
COCKTAIL SAUCE
PICKLES

NEWMAN’S OWN LOW FAT FIG NEWMANS
RAW ALMONDS
WALNUTS
HAZELNUTS
RAISINS

EGGS OR JUST EGG WHITES IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
LOWFAT COTTAGE CHEESE
LOWFAT/NON FAT YOGURT
PART SKIM RICOTTA CHEESE
FETA CHEESE (LOW FAT)
HARD WHITE CHEESE
SKIM MILK
ORANGE OR GRAPEFRUIT JUICE (100% JUICE MUST BE ON THE LABEL)
LOW FAT SOUR CREAM

TOMATO & VEGGIE ONLY SALSA (CHECK LABEL FOR SUGAR AND OTHER JUNK)
TORTILLA CHIPS (PLAIN FROM THE HEALTH FOOD ISLE)
RELISH OF ANY SORT IF NO SUGAR LISTED ON LABEL

WHOLE GRAIN PITA BREAD
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

CHICKEN BREASTS
BUFFALO FOR RED MEAT
SHRIMP (FRESH OR FROZEN)
SCALLOPS
ANY FISH FRESH OR FROZEN

BROWN RICE
STEEL CUT OATMEAL
WHOLE GRAIN CEREALS (KASHI IS A GOOD BRAND)

ANY SEASONING/CONDIMENT/SPICE THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE SUGAR OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OIL ON THE LABEL

OTHER NOTES:
• CHECK LABELS CAREFULLY FOR HIDDEN SATURATED FAT, ESPECIALLY PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OIL OR ANY KIND AND SUGAR. 
• THE FEWER THE INGREDIENTS LISTED ON THE LABEL, THE BETTER
• SHOP AT THE HEALTH FOOD STORES WHEN YOU CAN
• SHOP IN THE HEALTH FOOD ISLES OF YOUR GROCER FOR AS MANY ITEMS AS AVAILABLE
• STAY AWAY FROM THE JUNK FOOD, SODA AND COOKIE ISLES COMPLETELY
• SHOP THE PERIMETER OF THE STORE EXCEPT FOR THE NATURAL FOOD ISLES AND CANNED AND BOTTLED ITEMS