Tag Archives: exercise

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.


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 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!

Burn Those Calories

I recently read a study which determined that just tapping your foot while sitting will burn more calories than just sitting.  In fact, a completely sedentary person burns between 800 and 1,500 calories per day, creating the energy for the daily functions of all the cells in the body. This is called our basal metabolic rate, or BMR.  Researchers also found that exercise burns calories not just while you are doing the workout, but also in the hours following the exercise.  You use energy and burn calories to bring your body back to its normal resting state.  

So that’s the good news, you burn calories when you’re not exercising and you burn calories after your exercise session is over, but, you burn the most calories while you are actually exercising. 

Researchers found that the two most important contributors to burning calories during exercise are the contracting muscles and the increased work of the heart and lungs. The frequency and power of muscle contractions are by far the major factors in determining the number of calories burned during exercise.  Faster heart rate and breathing also burn calories, but not nearly as much as movement of legs, arms, abdominal and back muscles.  In fact, moving the biggest muscles in your body – your back, legs and abs – burn the most calories.

Over time, your metabolism changes as you convert your flabby muscles into firmer and leaner muscle mass.   The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, the higher your BMR the more calories you burn even when you’re NOT working out.

It takes resistance or strength training to get this calorie burning benefit from exercise.  However, cardio exercise will not only burn calories it will strengthen your heart muscle, the best way to avoid a heart attack.  A good exercise regimen includes both resistance training and cardio training.
You can determine how many calories you should take in on a daily basis with the following formula:

 Activity Level                           Calories per Pound 
Very light (sedentary)                14

Light (if you walk)                     15 – 17

Moderate (if you jog)                17 – 19

Heavy (if you’re a gym rat)       20 – 23
Use your “ideal” body weight, the weight you want to be, not the weight you are.

120lb X 18 (Moderate) = 2160 calories per day are needed to maintain 120 pounds of body weight daily
But choose those 2000+ calories wisely – keep this in mind:

Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram

Protein = 4 calories per gram

Fat = 9 calories per gram