Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

So I keep hearing these commercials on the radio for special pills that will guarantee you lose “up to” 30 pounds in 12 weeks.  2 1/2 pound a week if you take their pill daily.  Just take their pill…it’s guaranteed.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

Sounds easy don’t it?

Sounds too good to be true, right?


What is easy to miss while being mesmerized by the ad is that as a woman, you need to follow a strict diet of less than 1350 calories per day.

Guess what happens if you eat only 1350 calories per day (aside from being somewhat hungry)…you lose a little over a pound a week!  If you throw in a little exercise, you lose even more!

This is kind of like Mitt Romney saying his economic plan promises 12 million new jobs over the next four years…guess what?  Most independent economists say that 12 million jobs will be added back to the labor force no matter WHO is elected President.

…but I digress.

The bottom line is that smart, healthy weight loss must come at a price, and that price is a little sweat and a lot of discipline.  If you starve yourself in order to lose weight three things will happen:

  1. •You’ll be hungry.
  2. •You’ll slow your metabolism down which means you will burn calories at a progressively slower rate.
  3. •You’ll gain the weight back and more when you go back to eating the portions you ate before because of #2.

So what is one to do if not create a caloric deficit?

Here’s the thing – you DO want to create a deficit.  Although it is more complex than simply calories in vs. calories out, the basic principle holds true.  The key is to create the deficit while not starving oneself and slowing down the metabolism.

How?  There are three keys:

  1. •Proper diet – not a diet in the “I’m on a diet” sense, but rather an approach to food that gives you nourishment while making your body work to digest and absorb its nutrients – unprocessed and unrefined foods, lots of veggies and fruits, plenty of fiber.
  2. •Physical Activity – you don’t have to be a gym rat or a running fool (like me) to boost your metabolism through exercise.  Walking, jogging, biking, playing tag with your kids, dancing with your partner…60 minutes a day of some sort of activity is all it takes.  You can even break it down into 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, etc – get creative.
  3. •Sleep – this is often the ignored part of maintaining a higher metabolism and optimal health.  Believe it or not, 7 – 9 hours of sleep a day is a great way to burn fat.  There’s a lot of science that I won’t get into here, but the bottom line is that getting the required amount of sleep not only promotes fat loss while you are sleeping, but helps you avoid snacking on junkfood in the afternoon when you start to fade.

Don’t waste your money on the magic pills.  Their effect, in my opinion, is more placebo than any magic ingredient that gets your metabolism flying – and those that do?  Be careful about just what those ingredients are doing to your system.  1350 calories a day isn’t much. 1200 calories is the minimal amount of calories a bed-ridden woman needs simply to survive.  You get the picture?

Eat well, move 60 minutes a day and get some sleep.  Try it for a few weeks and see what happens.

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I originally was going to write this post for special needs parents. Then I decided that maybe I should include siblings and grandparents. That led me to cousins, extended family and friends….in the end, this post is for everyone, anyone…any person who is loved.

Are you loved?

I can pretty much guarantee, whoever you may be, you are…there is someone out there who loves you…your parents, your children, you family and friends. Long lost connections…someone who looks back through time…

Somebody loves you.

And because of that, you owe a debt.


Yesterday I wrote about how the pandemic of inactivity was killing us, causing 1 in 10 deaths worldwide. Putting that on par with smoking and obesity, that means that at least 30% of all deaths in the world are relatively preventable…that 30% of all deaths are the results of a slow suicide.

But Luau…

I can’t quit smoking.

I’m too big and can’t change my body.

I’m too tired and depressed to be active.


Would you want your child, or your spouse, or your mom or dad to slowly take their own life? Would you buy those excuses from them?

No, no you wouldn’t.


There is a wonderful website called the “Oxygen Mask Project”. It was created by two Special Needs Moms to inspire other Special Needs Moms to help them help themselves, because in their own words, “To care for others, you have to take care of yourself as well.”

As is so often the case, what is good for the Special Needs Community, is just as good for the rest of society.

We owe a debt that can only be repaid by taking care of ourselves to all those who love us, because in the end, isn’t that what life and happiness is all about…Love?

Without it, what’s the point?

Repay your debt daily…30 minutes at a time.

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If you can close your eyes and see the person you want to be, you can be it.

That was one of my posts the other day on Twitter and Facebook.  It came to me after watching two inspirational videos about two gentlemen who transformed themselves over the course of a year.  I hash-tagged my posts with #starttoday, hoping that somewhere, somehow, someone would be inspired to #starttoday and begin their personal transformation.  At first, my thinking was “if you want to lose weight, go out and run!” but as I sat thinking about the videos with the song “Fix You” running through my head (the soundtrack to both videos), I realized that these videos represented so much more and that the concept of #starttoday was about more than just throwing on some running shoes and going.

#starttoday is about doing something, anything to start yourself on the path of transformation – for some that mean dropping some pounds and gaining cardiovascular health.  Yes, #starttoday can mean throwing on your dusty running shoes and putting in a few miles but, it can also mean getting off of the couch, heading to the kitchen and today, just TODAY choosing to grab an apple instead of a bag of Doritos.  #starttoday can mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.  #starttoday can mean taking the dog around the block instead of to just the corner.  #starttoday can simply mean purposely changing your mindset – that this week, this day, this hour, this minute I will choose to live well; I will choose activity over inactivity; I will choose to eat healthful foods instead of junk; I will embrace the light that is life instead of the darkness.

Our bodies were designed, whether by God or by Nature, to move.  Today’s society inadvertently conspires to keep us still, idle – whether it be the TV, the computer, or the smartphone, when we are engaged with these devices we tend to stop moving.

Technology is not a bad thing.  It is a wonderful, beautiful thing that has helped bring the world together and can be used to make life easier.  We should not however mistake ease of life with complacency.  Contentment has its place, it is what we all strive for, but it cannot (and ultimately does not) come at the cost of our health.

In 2010 66% of the population of the United States was overweight, half of which was obese and we spent 2.6 trillion dollars on health care related issues.

That’s $2,600,000,000,000.00.

THAT is a lot of zeroes.  That’s close to $1,000 per person.  Would you rather be spending $1,000 on health care issue that were preventable or on items your family could use or want?  $1,000 per person pumped back into the economy could go a long way toward bringing America’s health back to where it once was – but that recovery starts with you, and your friends, and your neighbors.  I know that it’s not that simple.  Getting healthy is not that simple.  The numbers ($2.6 trillion, ~$1,000 per person) are not that simple. But we must start somewhere; we must start some time.

What better time to start than now?

Make a promise and #starttoday.

And then when you wake up tomorrow morning, do it again.

You can do it.

I dare anybody who loves running NOT to cry at 3:50 of this video.


Don’t wait.  Take a walk…play with your kids…jump…run…dance…make love…swim…bike…have a water balloon fight…

…and if you still don’t know how to start, just ask.


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My new training program has called for a lot of cross-training and some timed runs that I find easier to do on a treadmill.  Because of this, I have found myself going to the local gym way more than I have in the past.  I have probably been to the gym more in the last month than I had in the previous 2 years combined.  It’s really been an interesting time watching the wide spectrum of people who come in for their workouts, ranging from young to old; athletic to, well, not so athletic; the focused to the people who are just there to chat and people watch.

During this stretch I’ve included swimming, cycling, stair climbing, rowing and a variety of elliptical machines.  When I try using a fitness machine of any kind for the first time, I always want to make sure that I am using proper form.  Doing otherwise is a surefire way of either A) getting injured or B) failing to maximize the health benefits of a workout.  I start slowly to make sure that I am “doing it right” and slowly pick up speed, constantly conscious of where my body parts are.  Most of the time, those first workouts feel extremely light – I am unable to get my heart rate where I want it to be – and that is because, as soon as I feel my form is falling apart, I will dial it down until I get it right.

After two or three attempts on an apparatus, I usually have it down and am able to push to where I need to be and get the amount of sweat I’m looking for.

What has struck me as I go to the gym on a regular basis now is the complete mess that so many people seem unaware that they are:

  • On the rower I see people with their arms and legs completely out of sync and with their hands moving up and down as if going over a hill,ending up near their eyes.
  • On the stairmaster I see people bent over at the waist almost 90° with their hands turned out on the rails.
  • On the treadmill I see people holding on for dear life to the top of the display as their legs go flying out behind them.
  • On the elliptical I see people, and Lord knows how they do this, bent over with their elbows above their heads.

Every one of these people is working hard, but I know they are doing themselves a disservice.  Now you may be thinking Luau, maybe they are at the end of their workouts and they’ve just run out of gas.  You know, that would be fine (sorta!) but I’ve been watching these people for several weeks now and it is how do their workout for the WHOLE workout.

Honestly though, their bad form isn’t entirely their fault.  There are several trainers that are walking around the gym at any given time.  THEY should know better.  THEY should take the opportunity to show these people the proper form.  That being said, each individual should take the time to make sure they are doing something the right way before putting the pedal to the metal when exercising – this includes running outside too.

If you’re just starting this exercise thing, keep in mind, that if you don’t know how to properly use a machine or are not sure how to run with proper form, don’t be afraid to ask somebody.  You’ll end up seeing positive result in the mirror, on the scale and in your head much more quickly.  Swallow a little pride and ask.  It can make all the difference in the world.

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A couple of weeks ago, Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard Univerity suggested that morbidly obese children be removed from their parents custody because allowing these children to reach the sizes that they had was tantamount to child abuse.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.  Removal of a child from his or her own home because he or she is obese.

I have to admit, I initially had mixed feelings on this subject.

The undeniable truth is that this country has a weight problem.  When 2/3 of the population is overweight and 1/3 is obese, there is no arguing that.  I know there are “sticks-in-the-mud” out there that insist that nobody can tell them what to do or what to eat, but I can’t help but use an Palin-ism (God help me!) and think out loud, “how’s that working out for ya?”

We are squarely on the path toward a population that will suffer from higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, strokes and other weight related diseases all because we have this attitude of “You Can’t Tell Me What To Do!!!”  And you know what?  I hear that.  No one likes to be talked down to.  It’s not fun.

But reality is reality.  As simplistic and as dumb as that sounds, I think a lot of America misses that.  Want proof? Just go to your local Cineplex this weekend and watch the parade of those in denial walk by.  Stylistic preferences aside, you have to wonder, what kind of warped mirror are they looking at, if they are looking at a mirror at all, when they get dressed to go out.

But in all seriousness, have we reached the point where we have to take these children out of their homes and away from their parents?  and just what will happen to these kids when they are taken out of their homes?  where will they go?  will foster parents or the State do a better job of feeding these kids?  will they get them motivated to be physically active?

On top of that, what about situations where the weight gain isn’t necessarily food and activity related?  1 in 88 American boys has been diagnosed with autism.  Many of those boys will take a variety of drugs to manage anxiety, perseverative behaviors and other symptoms that often come with autism.  Some of these drugs, like risperidone, cause very noticeable weight gain.  Parents of autistic children must go through the heart-wrenching decision of whether the benefits of such drugs (the far out idea of actually being able to connect with your child) outweighs the side effects.  Would the good doctor take these kids away from their homes as well?

A much better and more global solution would be to educate families on what they are actually putting into themselves and into their children.  But that knowledge of what is quality nutrition and what is not only goes so far.  We as a society have to figure out how to overcome the food deserts that are embarrassingly popping up in this country.  How is it that the most powerful nation in the world can’t sustain a big chain grocery store in the proud city of Detroit?  How can parents expect to feed their children nutritious meals if they are forced to shop at the local bodega or 7-Eleven.  Knowing what to eat is pointless if it isn’t available or affordable.

If you want to argue cost, saying that you don’t want your money (tax dollars) paying for educating how others eat and move or incentivising the revitalization of food deserts, consider this: there is a freight train of diabetics and those riddled with heart disease hurtling our way.  When it arrives, there will be a huge cost – who do you think will be paying for the drugs these people need to take?  You will.  Who do you think will pay for the days that these people just can’t get to work?  You will.  Who do you think will pay when these people go on long-term disability when they are no longer able to work?  You will.  One way or another, whether it is through increased health insurance premiums or being asked to work longer and harder at your job, you will pay.  After that, when their hearts and bodies give out under the years of overworking, there will be the cost of losing these people to early deaths.

Is all of that still worth eating whatever you want, whenever you want?

But back to Dr. Ludwig.  To be fair, he was talking about those children who are on the extreme side of obesity – say a 16 year old kid weighing in at 555 lbs.  It is unimaginable to me that I would ever let either one of my daughters reach any where near that weight, BUT I also have relatively easy access to nutritious foods, incredible doctors and space to run and play.  Would I judge a parent in my community if they let their child reach those numbers?  Yeah, probably.  Would I take that child away from his or her home?  I don’t know.  If the parents were good friends, I would hope I would have the courage to advise them to seek help.

But what about communities where nutrition and play space may not be so readily available?  some that are not so far from where I live?  I think that is part of the problem with Dr. Ludwig’s suggestion – it doesn’t take into account the vast societal differences one can encounter simply moving from one neighborhood to another.

What’s the answer then?  I don’t know.  If I did, I’d be running for mayor and implementing a plan.  In the meantime, I can only encourage people to remain active (and to lead by example for the sake of their children) and be aware of what they put in their mouths.

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Why do you run?

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There are many reasons why I run.  Some are for me – the sense of accomplishment, the feeling of achievement; but some are for others.

I run because I need to know that I am doing everything possible to make sure that I am “there”.  I don’t mean “there” in the sense of the here and now – no, I am talking about being “there” down the line.  I run for my kids.  I run for the wife.  I run for my parents.

Statistics show that those that lead a sedentary life have a significantly higher likelihood of being inflicted with cancer or other life-debilitating diseases.  Add extra weight (not even obesity) to that equation and the numbers become staggering.

According to the Mayo Clinic, men who have a beer gut are at a higher risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Some types of cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • High triglycerides
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

For women, the increased belly fat brings a higher risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Gallbladder problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Colorectal cancer

Depending on how sedentary the life-style and the amount of weight, the increased risk can be as much as 50%.

But here’s the thing, even if a sedentary life only added a 5% chance of getting cancer or some other life-ending disease, would you want to take that chance, knowing that exercise and healthful eating habits could have helped you avoid them?  Could you look your children or spouse in the eyes at the end and simply apologize because you couldn’t find the motivation to move your body?

Time is a factor, I know.  There are only 24 hours in a day, and busy, hectic life-styles can impede the ability to sweat.  Carving out 120 minutes per week can be difficult.  It’s hard.  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  Still, I bet if you kept a diary of everything you did in the coming week, you would find a 30 – 40 minute window in a few spots.  Give it a try.  Seriously.

Energy is another factor.   Low-energy can sap the will like nothing else, but I tell you this – you energy-level is much like matter in that it is subject to inertia.  If it is sedentary, it will remain sedentary until you move it.  The spectacular part though is that once it is moving, it is more likely to stay in motion.  You just have to push – a little bit, every day.  Get the ball rolling and the rest will take care of itself.

So, I guess the question is, are you happy playing Russian Roulette?  The statistics say that nothing should happen when you pull the trigger, but do you want to take that chance?  Whether it’s a bullet or life-ending disease, the result is the same.

That is a reason I run; why I try to break a sweat at least 2 out of every 3 days.

Take the bullets out of the gun.

There are no guarantees in life other than death and taxes, but why not stack the deck in your favor?

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Why do you run?

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We are one month into 2011.  How are things going?  Have you stuck to your workout goals and resolutions?  Are you still eating better?


Do you feel like you’re not seeing enough of a change for all of the time you have been putting in?


Let me ask you this – when you workout, are you sweating? I don’t mean schvitzing or perspiring. I mean really, REALLY sweating.

I don’t go to the gym a whole lot. I either run outside or on the treadmill in my basement. For strength training I do a lot of home-based workouts (push ups, planks, chin ups, TRX). BUT when I do go to the gym, I am often surprised to find that a lot of people finish their workouts with just the slightest hint of sweat on their brow and seem to be under the impression that they have put in a hardcore cardio workout.

I want to ask these people if they actually value their time? Don’t they want to make the most of the perceived effort they’ve invested? I don’t believe I’m being a workout snob. I just think that maybe these people don’t get what a hard workout really is.

Yes, I know that getting to the point where you are soaked is hard. Yes, I know that a hard workout hurts. But as the saying goes, “No Pain, No Gain”.

And it’s not like every workout has to be a hard one. In fact, ideally workouts should oscillate between hard and easy to make sure that the body has an opportunity to mend and get stronger while staying loose.

But if it is fast results that you want, you are going to have to sweat; sweat to the point where your shirt is soaked; soaked to the point where you can wring a cupful of stink out of it.

THAT’S when you know you’ve done your job. Quite honestly, there is very little that is more satisfying than hearing the hard smack of your drenched shirt hitting your bathroom floor after a hard workout.

So, if you are struggling to see results in your resolution workouts, I’ll ask you again – are you sweating?

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Why do you run?

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There is no way around it, I run a lot of miles, at least relative to the general population.

4 to 5 days a week, 40 to 50 miles per week.

There is no question that running is a huge part of why I am in the shape I am in.


But I don’t think that is the whole story.

Yes, diet has a lot to do with it, but truth be told, I sincerely believe that it is the work I do away from the road, the treadmill or the dining table that makes an impact on how fit I am.

No, I am not talking about the elliptical, or the core workouts, or the stretching sessions.

I am talking about the hidden mini-workouts that can occur anywhere, for anyone, at anytime.

These workouts don’t make me break a sweat. In fact, I hardly am aware that I am doing them. The only thing they require is that I take an extra 30 – 60 seconds while going about my every day business.

Whether it’s parking a little further away from the grocery store, or walking up to my daughter’s room instead of yelling up to her;  whether it’s going up and down stairs with a little extra pop or just taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator – these extra steps add up over the course of a day – burning a few more calories here and there.  Is it enough to get INto shape? No, BUT, it IS enough to get the blood flowing through your limbs and get them used to the idea of movement.  If you think about moving on a regular basis, you are that much closer to actually doing it.   The hardest part of getting off the couch is, you guessed it, getting off the couch.  Inertia is one of the most powerful laws in the universe.  If you are constantly at rest, you will, in all likelihood, stay at rest.  That’s physics.

But if you start small and slowly build, you can develop into a fast flying, calorie burning machine.

A long time ago, completely unrelated to running, I felt like I was in a rut and going nowhere.  My mother said to me, “look at your feet.”  She correctly took my silence on the phone to be confusion.  She then continued, “when you are climbing a mountain, if you are constantly looking at the peak, you won’t be able to see your progress very well. You may  well feel like you are spinning your wheels.  But take a moment and look at your feet.  Look at the distance they are covering with every step.”

It was an “a-ha!” moment in my life.

It’s the same with these mini-hidden-workouts – start small…look at the feet, see the progress.  Eventually the regular workouts have to and will come.  Inertia will make it so.

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Why do you run?

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The average American sleeps over 106 days per year.

The average American watches almost 78 days of television per year.

The average American surfs the Internet nearly 30 days per year.

The average American eats for nearly 23 day per year.

How much time does the average American spend on exercise?

Less than 20% of the American population participates in regular exercise. Of those 20%, 65% spend less than an hour doing it. For 80% of this Great Nation, the average amount of time spent during the year on truly sweating is less than 1 day.


Sleep and food are necessary. Television and the Internet are not.


And no, it’s not just lack of exercise; it is also what we are doing with the time we COULD be spending exercising (staring at a screen, mindlessly eating). It’s a double-whammy.  Mindless eating is not about hunger or nutrition. It’s not even about pleasure, as a fine meal can be.  But junk/fast-food is not the enemy. It’s what we are doing with it that is – a topic for another post I suppose.

I digress.


So what’s your health worth to you? 20 days? 10 days? Would you believe that you could significantly help yourself with just 6.5 days a year? 6.5 days.

Can you spare 6.5 days?

That averages out to 3 hours per week.

I can already hear some people saying, “I don’t have an extra 3 hours per week.”

I hear you. Loud and clear. Time is precious. Choices have to be made. Issues must be tended to. But I take you back to the statistics above. How many hours per week do you spend in front of the television or the computer?

Be honest.

I have friends who are constantly traveling, constantly working and literally don’t have the time. They don’t watch TV and time spent on the computer is for work. For them, I’m not sure what the answer is. Some kind of multi-tasking?

But there are others. Other who complain or come up with excuses.

3 hours a week.

Not only are you receiving the benefits of physical exertion during that time, you’re getting the added bonus of not sitting in front of a screen, munching on HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).

So let me re-phrase – can you re-allocate 3 hours per week?


Isn’t your spouse/child/parent/friend worth 6.5 days?

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Why do you run?

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So, since the beginning of this blog, I have been a huge proponent of physical exercise. True, I definitely skew toward the power of running, but quite honestly, as long as you get sweaty and breathe hard, I don’t care how you get your daily burn. I still feel that running was the best way to achieve this…

…that is, until today.

Today I read this article from Women’s Health Magazine. Yes, I know, it’s Women’s Health. It was on a friend’s Facebook page, okay? So anyway, go ahead. Click on the link and read the article and then come back. I’ll wait. Oh, if you are the type that is easily offended, don’t bother.

Are you back? Did you just run to the gym to do some core exercises? Maybe some hanging leg raises?

The sad part is that this article really isn’t directed towards me, though I guess that would present problems of its own. Seriously though, for all the women out there looking for a good reason to hit the gym, I can’t really think of a better selling point. I mean, really, I’m surprised that there aren’t groups of women coming out of the middle of a Pilates class for a cigarette! Talk about a feel good workout! It puts the Runner’s High to shame. AND you don’t need anybody or anything else with you. I mean seriously, if I were a woman I think I’d be a core-exercise nut!

I’ll tell ya, going to the gym from now on is going to be a whole new experience!

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Here is the actual workout recommended by Women’s Health Magazine.

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