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Fitness Hints

Here are some fitness hints and facts that have been useful to me and I wanted to share them with you.

Keeping Motivated to Exercise  

Question: Every time I start an exercise program, eventually it fades out of my life and I stop doing it altogether. Any ideas on how to avoid this? Is it bad to start again, stop again, start again, stop again, etc.?

Answer: Sticking with your exercise program regularly and consistently is your best bet for overall health. While there's no specific danger in starting and stopping over and over again, it's important to set personal goals and identify what motivates you to exercise. Even if there's been a long lapse in your
sessions, you should do your best to get back to regular exercise as soon as you can.  

Identify What Motivates You

For some, it's disease prevention. If a close family member has been affected by heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, or cancer, that may be what motivates you to stay healthy and avoid the same path. Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing these and other diseases and will help you maintain a healthy body weight. 

For others, living longer could be a motivator. Research has shown that exercise may extend the years of your life. It can greatly enhance your quality of living, too, by making regular day-to-day physical activities such as climbing stairs, carrying groceries, and vacuuming easier. 

Getting Started 

How you start an exercise program may greatly determine whether you stick with it. If you have started programs in the past only to quit a month later, pay careful attention to the following tips: 

  • Set realistic goals. Don't try to run a marathon or lose 10 pounds in a month.  Begin slowly and try a number of different exercises. Limit the length of each session. 
  • Use visualization daily: Picture yourself enjoying your workout and then feeling great when you've finished. 
  • Schedule exercise and make it a top priority in your life. Write it down on your calendar and keep a daily exercise log.
  • Identify one exercise that you enjoy doing on most days. If you're traveling, maintain some kind of routine. Find a fitness center at the hotel, go for a swim, or take a long walk. You can also try strengthening exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, calf raises, and lunges. 
  • Don't feel guilty when you miss a session or two. Negative feelings will only hinder your motivation. Getting back on track will make you feel better. 
  • If boredom is hindering your routine, try doing new exercises, pick a new sport, or recruit an exercise partner. The key is finding something you like and sticking with it.  Distractions -- such as reading, listening to music, or watching television while you work out -- can also help keep you motivated.
  • Try exercising at a different time of day, or break up a workout schedule to include aerobic exercise in the morning and strength training at night.

Other tips include:

  • Buying an exercise tape that you find entertaining. 
  • Scheduling several sessions with a personal trainer.
  • Joining an exercise class that has a lively instructor.  

Overall, it's important to not get discouraged if you miss a week or two of exercise. It's never too late to get started again. When your program gets derailed, try to figure out what went wrong and learn from your mistakes. Best of luck and keep exercising!

Top 10 Tips For Fending Off Food Cravings by Marlene Lesson

We've all been there. You're having a great diet day when suddenly -- out of nowhere -- comes the haunting cry of your favorite fatty snack food. It starts out faint, then builds in intensity until you feel like there's no way not to give into this demon desire for chocolate, chips or whatever...

You can lessen the lure of this siren from the snack aisle. Simply soak up these proven Top 10 tips for fending off cravings and you'll no longer be an easy mark for diet-sabotaging snacks or unhealthy fast food feasts.

Special thanks go out to veteran nutritionist Marlene Lesson, who's been serving up healthy and hearty meals for visitors to North Carolina's Structure House Center for Weight Control & Lifestyle Change since 1983. Lesson has provided this lesson on curbing the craving.

1.Make sure you have three healthy meals each day. When you skip a meal, you will be more likely to experience cravings between meals.

2.Eat an adequate number of calories of well-balanced foods. A healthy weight loss is no more than 1% of your weight per week. Often food cravings can simply be a result of hunger.

3.Understand that cravings are a normal response to living in a food-faulty environment. Eliminate as many food cues from your environment as possible. For example, do not keep problem foods in your house. Reduce exposure to tough situations like dining with eating buddies and patronizing restaurants that are known for huge portions.

4.Realize that overindulging is not due to lack of willpower or self-control. Problem solving is more effective that berating yourself when you overeat. Making value judgments when you are unstructured is very self-defeating and only perpetuates the problem.

5.Be aware that cravings pass. The urge to eat is like a wave. It grows gradually before peaking and subsiding. Visualize yourself as a surfer, riding the wave until it diminishes.

6.Put time, distance and an activity in between you and food. When the urge to eat hits, wait 20 minutes before indulging. Physically distance yourself from the food. Engage in another activity to get your mind off of food. The urge to eat will often disappear.

7.Assume responsibility for your eating behaviors. Believing that carbohydrates are "addictive" may be a way of giving yourself permission to overeat. Determine what is making you want to eat and take appropriate action.

8.Exercise rather than eat when you are stressed. When you eat fat/sweet combination of foods, such as chocolate, endorphins are released in the brain, which induce euphoric or pleasurable feelings. The same brain chemicals are released in response to aerobic exercise.

9.Allow yourself the opportunity to change food preferences. My clients often report that they have less desire for fat, sugar and salt after eating a healthy diet for a period of time. The brain chemical galanin increases our desire for fatty foods. Research shows that eating less fat reduces galanin levels and the desire for fatty foods.

10.Most importantly, examine the rest of your life. If the urge to eat is insurmountable you may need to look at psychological issues. Are you using food to deal with emotional problems? You may want to enlist the help of a psychotherapist to deal with these issues.

Marlene Lesson has been the Nutrition Director at Structure House for the past 17 years. In addition to teaching numerous classes and workshops on various aspects of nutrition, she is a registered dietitian and member of the American Dietetic Association. Lesson has a graduate degree in Human Nutrition and Foods from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and Art History at the University of Maryland in 1973. She has published articles on sports nutrition in the popular press and is a co-author of a professional paper, "Weight Loss Expectations of Obese, Residential Treatment-Seeking Men and Women," which was presented at a meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

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New Year's Resolutions: Researchers have found that following these states can lead to a successful change:
  • 1. Precontemplation. Get information about how your bad habits can affect you.
  • 2. Contemplation. Weigh the benefits of change. Get specific, monitor yourself. Keep a record of how much you eat, drink, or smoke.
  • 3. Preparation. Begin making small changes: for example, give up you early morning cigarette or some other habit you want to change. This is the time to make a firm decision.
  • 4. Take the action. Give yourself all the help you can. Substitute a healthy habit, like exercise, for a bad one, like over eating. Cultivate new interests.
  • 5. Maintenance. This is the hard part. You're into your new life. Most attempts at change don't work on the first try. For most people, relapses are part of quitting. If you relapse, learn from your experience. Start over! Keep at it!

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Exercise Body Chart: focus on the various muscles groups to achieve the look you want



Sets x Reps

Trapezius Shrugs, Upright Rows 3-6 x 12-15
Sterno Cledo Mastoid Front Neck Raises 3 x 10-12
Deltoids Military Press, Lateral Raises, Bent-Over Laterals 3-6 x 8-12
Pectorals Bench Press, Declines, Inclines 3 x 8-12
Biceps Dumbbell Curls, Wide-grip Barbell Curls 3 x 8-12
Brachialis Hammer Curls 3 x 8-10
Forearms Reverse Wrist Curls 2-3 x 15-25
Latissimus Dorsi Chin-ups, Pulldowns 4-6 x 10-12
Abdominals One-Arm Cable Crunches, Crunches, Reverse Crunche 2-4 x 15-25
Hip Flexors Leg Raises 2-4 x 15-20
Groin Leg Adduction 2-3 x 8-10
Quadriceps Squats, Extensions, Hacks 3-4 x 8-15
Calf Standing Calf Raises, Seated Calf Raises 3-4 x 12-15
Teres, Infraspinatus, Rhomboids Seated Rows, Parallel Pulldowns, Seated & One Arm Rows, Bent-Over Rows 3-6 x 8-12
Gluteus Squats, Leg Press, Leg Abduction, Lunges (walking Lunges are the best) 3-6 x 6-12
Hamstrings Leg Curls, Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 3 x 10-12

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Stuck?   Still would like to loose 10 pounds but nothing seems to work.  Take a suggestion from the The Ultimate Lean Routine : 12-Week Cross Training & Fat Loss Program (ISBN: 1565302036) by Greg Isaacs.   Elevate your heart rate with aerobic interval training twice a week.   Run on a track.  Jog a lap to warm up; then for the next several laps, sprint on the straight-aways and job the corners.  A sample training program:
  • Monday & Friday - cardiovascular conditioning - long duration, comfortable pace.
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays - strength training.
  • Wednesday & Saturday - cardiovascular conditioning - high intensity interval training.
  • Sunday - stretching or yoga.

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As you know, basketball is primarily a running game, but strength and jumping ability are also important assets. You must be aerobically fit for continuous play; you must also possess speed for short bursts and endurance to play the whole game.

Running is the backbone of training for basketball players. You should run at least 15 miles a week in the off-season. Most of this running can be aerobic jogging at 65% of your target pulse; perform interval work once a week - running repeat 220 or 440 yard sprints at 85 to 95 percent of maximum speed.

Strength training with the home type weights and bench would be ideal for doing circuits - try this workout 3 times a week for about 4 weeks. Except for the stretching, do 3 sets of each exercise - for the weight exercises do 1st set 12-15 reps, 2nd set increase the weight do 8-10 reps, and 3rd set increase the weight do 6-10 reps. Always increase the weight:

 1) Warm-up doing general stretching and lower extremity stretching - heel cord, quadriceps and hamstring stretches.

 2) Pushups.

 3) Squats.

 4) Bench press.

 5) Rope skipping.

 6) Crunches.

 7) Military press.

 8) French curls.

 9) Biceps curls.

Remember that to look "cut" the layer of body fat between your muscles and skin must be almost none existent. If you look at my contest pictures - I'm between 8 and 9 percent bodyfat.

Today, you can see my muscles but my body fat is at 10.6% the definition is not as sharp. You can see my abs and I'm not "smooth" but my look today is not as "cut" as those contest pictures. Also remember that the models you see in the magazines have trained and dieted specifically for those photo shoots. What I'm trying to say in a long-about-way is to be realistic about the look you want to achieve and where you're at now.

Aerobics, diet and weight training are the keys to achieving a toned sharp look.

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There are three keys to getting into shape:

  • (1) Don't work out so much that you stop, but keep on a regular schedule. Make sure that you get plenty of rest, i.e., allow your body to recuperate.
  • (2) Diet - Make sure you're getting enough calories to maintain your health.  If you eat too little your body is going to think you're starving and it will hold on to the body fat. Cut out the complex carbohydrates, i.e., breads, cakes, cookies, snacks - you know what I mean. Now, I don't mean never have complex carbohydrates just enjoy them occasionally as a treat. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Think about how much the food has been processed. Start writing down what you eat and when - helps you see your patterns. Again it's vital that you don't become discouraged or make it a chore. If you eat a donut at work, acknowledge that you've eaten it, think about why and see what you can do to change your response. (I make sure I bring health food to work and that I'm not hungry. If I'm not hungry I won't eat the donuts.) The more processed the food the more you stay away from it. Eat smart!
  • (3) Aerobics - good for your heart and good for your body. You can't lose body fat any other way.  Running, Stairmaster / climber, Ski machine, etc., are all good. Make sure you don't over train and get burnt out.  Just keep at it!

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Body Fat % Chart

Click here to see my Body Fat % stats .



Excellent 11 & Under 16 & Under
Fit 12-14 17-19
Good 15-18 20-23
Fair 19-24 24-29
Poor 25+ 30+


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What is a "V" taper? Broad shoulders narrow waist and hips. Improving your "V" taper depends on four things:
  1. Increasing Shoulder Width: Seated lateral raises - bend forward slightly - palms facing backwards throughout the movement - 5 sets 12 reps. Upright row / barbell press - alternate these two exercises with rest - 4 sets 10 reps each (moderate weight).
  2. Improving Lat Width: Widegrip chins behind neck / Lat pulldowns - perform a set of wide grip chins until you cannot complete another repetition, then immediately go to the lat machine and continue a further 12 reps. Perform 3 sets of each exercise. Rest for two minutes after the pulldowns.
  3. Decreasing Hip and Waist Size: Avoid sidebends with weights. The oblique muscles will gain too much mass. Avoid heavy flat-footed squats with excessive forward leaning.
  4. Losing Fat: Include aerobics in your workouts, such as rope jumping, jogging, stair-climber, stationary bike, or step machine workouts. Cut down on fat-dense foods such as creams, cheese, red meat, etc.
  • Hint: "V" shape is accented by posing out the lats in front of a mirror. Devote 5 minutes per day.
  • Hint: Hold a sturdy upright with both hands and endeavor to pull the lat muscles out by sheer force relax and repeat.
  • Hint: Endeavor to isolate the shoulder blades by pushing back and out with your hands placed at the back of your hip bones. Work both shoulder blades equally.

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What if you did 5,000 sit-ups a month? A study at the University of Massachusetts showed that even men who did 5,000 sit-ups over the course of 27 days had no significant loss of fat in the abdominal area. The whole idea of spot-reducing is a myth. To lose body fat, you must burn more calories than you take in - a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound.

The Crunch is a better way to strengthen abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis and the external and internal obliques).

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Contract the abdominal muscles while pressing your lower back into the floor, which will cause your upper body to lift up slowly.
  • Come up to no more than a 30 - 40 degree angle.
  • If you're just starting to do crunches, keep your arms straight at your side as you sit up. To increase the difficulty of the exercise as you progress, cross your arms over your chest, or place your hands behind your head or near your ears.
  • Slowly lower your back to the ground.
  • Prevent arching, always keep your lower back pressed into the floor.
  • Beginners should start with three sets of five crunches with a brief rest between sets. Try this three to five times a week. Gradually work up to three sets of 15 crunches per session. Remember take them slow and easy.
  • Stop if you feel discomfort in your lower back.

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Calculating Waist-to-Hip Ratio: To evaluate your risk of developing disease based on your fat distribution, determine your waist-to-hip ratio.
  • Measure your waist at the navel, then your hips at the greatest circumference around the buttocks.
  • Divide the waist measurement by the hip size. This is your waist-to-hip ratio.
  • A waist-to-hip ratio greater than 1.0 for men and 0.8 for women indicates an increased cardiac risk. Ideally a man's waist shouldn't exceed that of his hips; and a woman's waist shouldn't measure no more than 80% of her hips.

To get the most from aerobic exercise, you should exercise at your training heart rate. To compute your training heart rate subtract your age from 220 (that's your Maximum Heart Rate [MHR]) then take 60 percent and 80 percent of that number (multiply the number by 0.6 and by 0.8). The results are the upper and lower end of your target rate per minute should fall somewhere between these two numbers.


Age Maximum Heart Rate per minute 60% Training Rate 80% Training Rate 90% Training Rate
20 200 120 160 180
25 195 117 156 175
30 190 114 152 171
35 185 111 148 166
40 180 108 144 162
45 175 105 140 157
50 170 102 136 153
55 165 99 132 149
60 160 96 128 144
65 155 93 124 140


Workout tips:
  • 1. Warm up before you workout - for instance, run or walk for a few minutes. Stretch gently.
  • 2. Start with light weights - ones that you can lift comfortably 10 to 15 times. You can gradually increase the weight and as you increase the weight you may have to decrease the repetitions.
  • 3. Rest between sets for a minute or two to allow the muscles to recover.
  • 4. Workout slowly and smoothly through the entire range of the muscles.
  • 5. Exhale while you lift and inhale when you bring the weight down. Breathe evenly.
  • 6. If you feel pain during an exercise, stop immediately. A pain is a warning that you're causing damage.
  • 7. Isolate the muscle group that you're working. Try to move only the muscles that are involved with the exercise. Avoid arching your back when you lift.
  • 8. Work the large muscle groups first, such as the legs, chest and back.
  • 9. Design a balanced workout. Don't overemphasize one body part over another. Sad to see a guy with great chest and arms and skinny little chicken legs!
  • 10. Pair your exercises. Each muscle group has an opposing one - for example, the quadriceps and the hamstrings (front and back of the thigh). An imbalance between opposing muscles increases the risk of injury.
  • 11. Cool down after the work out. Repeat your warm up routine and stretch gently.

If you're 35 or older or have heart disease or another medical condition, you should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Its never too late to start strength training. A study at Tufts University found that an eight-week weight-training program allowed frail 90-year olds to build muscle mass and thus become, as the researchers pointed out, more mobile and self-sufficient.

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In Anchorage Alaska we rarely have smog but it does happen. If you exercise outdoors in smog, breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible. This will reduce the amount of pollutants reaching your lungs. Work out in the early morning when there's less car exhaust and ozone.

If you're alone and start choking, do the self-administered Heimlich maneuver. Make a fist and place the thumb side against your abdomen, above the navel. With the other hand, grasp the fist and press in and upward with a sharp thrust. Another anti-choking maneuver: press your abdomen (just below the ribs) forcefully against the back of a chair, table, sink, or railing. Repeat until air is forced through the airway and the food is expelled.

Dislike the taste of skim milk? Add a few tablespoons of nonfat dried milk to each cup. Not only will this make it thicker and richer-tasting, it will boost the protein and calcium.

Oh no! Did you know that a cheese Danish can contain as many calories and fat as a hamburger?


Sweet potatoes contain no more calories than white potatoes and virtually no fat. They also provide nearly half the RDA for vitamin C and three times the recommended amount of beta carotene, plus a fair amount of fiber.

Its easy to become dehydrated when exercising in cold weather. Drink as much fluid in the cold as in the heat. You lose water from sweating and breathing and because of your stepped-up urine production.

Trade off: on pancakes and waffles, use syrup instead of butter. One tablespoon of syrup has about 50 calories and no fat. Butter has 100 calories per tablespoon and is virtually pure fat.

Mangos contain 20% more beta carotene than cantaloupe and 50% more than apricots. They also have about half as much vitamin C as oranges.

Of all the cheeses, cream cheese is the highest in fat! Ninety percent of its calories come from fat.


Home-made sports drink: Here's a recipe from The New York City Marathon Cookbook, by Nancy Clark. In a glass, dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar and a pinch (1/16 teaspoon) salt in a little hot water. Add 1 tablespoon orange juice or 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 7.5 ounces ice water.

Speaking of thirst, as we age our thirst mechanism becomes less efficient. On average, the body loses about two to three quarts of fluid daily. We must replace this fluid. Don't wait until you're thirsty, drink fluids before, during and after your workout.

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