Sticking to Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

According to the Huffington Post, 40-45% of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually stick to them six months later. In fact, many Americans now make New Year’s resolutions believing they will fail. A little depressing huh?

So how can resolution-makers prevent themselves from becoming one of “maybe next year” group? When it comes to the ever-popular resolution of getting fit and losing weight, beginning with realistic goals is the first step.
Resolutions should be achievable and sustainable. Running 10 miles every day for a year is probably not sustainable. Running at least one mile four days a week is much more realistic. If weight loss is the aim, people should set time-specific goals, like losing 18 pounds within the first six months. This makes the process seem much less daunting and prevents procrastination.

Below are a few more tips for actually sticking to New Year’s fitness resolutions.

Write it Down & Publicize It

Fully commit to resolutions by putting them in print and sharing them with the others. People trying to exercise more may want to tape a sign on their bedroom mirror along with motivational quotes and pictures. Having a physical reminder that says, “Yoga three times a week”, will help keep exercisers inspired. With such a reminder, it’d be difficult to look in the mirror without feeling guilty after missing a few weeks of yoga.

Resolution makers should also tell a spouse or close friend of their goal and ask for support. When people state their resolution aloud, it makes it seem more real and ensures that there will be others available for help and encouragement.

Keep Track

Getting into shape or losing weight is far from easy. It requires a lot of time and effort and the results are not always obvious. Thus, it’s important to track your progress. Weigh-ins, measurements, exercise tests are all concrete ways to gauge improvement, but there are simpler ways. Track how far you run, your mile time, how many sit-ups you can do, etc. These are great indicators of fitness level.

Keeping tabs of calories and exercise is motivating and essential to success. Use a calendar or check out many of the technological options for tracking.

Calendar

An old-school calendar is a great way to record daily exercise and food intake. There are calorie counting guides with places for each meal and lists of calorie amounts for typical foods, or if people prefer to keep it simple, use a basic pocket notebook.

Fitness Apps

Technology lovers may prefer online programs or calorie counting/exercise tracking applications for their smartphones. Nutrition apps like MyFitnessPal and Lose It! are great for tracking calories and exercise. Using these tools will keep users mindful of the food they’re putting in to their bodies. There are a variety of exercise applications to track running, weightlifting, biking, etc. Popular apps are RunKeeper, iTreadmill, GymGoal, and Authentic Yoga.

Reward Yourself

No one is superman (or woman). Staying committed to New Year’s resolutions isn’t easy and putting in the effort to reach fitness goals day in and day-out is exhausting. Exercisers need to take time to reward themselves. After meeting that first goal of losing 18lbs by the six month mark, it’s time for new workout gear. After an especially tough workout, lock the bathroom door and light some candles for a warm bath.

Starvation and slaving away on the treadmill aren’t going to make anyone meet their resolution any sooner—they’ll demotivate and lead to failure. Take time to pat yourself on the back…or indulge in a little dark chocolate (like some authors).

About the Author

Guest author, Maggie Voelker is a health nut and science nerd with a BS in Kinesiology and Health. She lives and works in Indianapolis, IN as a content writer for a sunglasses provider. Her most recent work includes an online sun safety resource and she hopes to continue to produce health-related content. Outside of work Maggie enjoys running, yoga, live music, traveling, and (attempting) to cook.

Looking to create a home yoga sanctuary – a place to slip away for meditation or a few minutes to practice a favorite pose? “Mom’s” most recent article on SheKnows.com outlines some simple ideas to design your own Zen Den in the New Year! You can read the entire article here.

*Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Seven Holidays to Help Get You Fitter Than a Fiddle in 2012

The health warnings come in thick and fast, especially at the turn of the year, and they all say the same thing; our lifestyles are way too sedentary. If flicking the remote takes major motivation, and a climb up the stairs feels like tackling Everest then you know it’s time to make some changes. Being unfit sucks, big time, but when most of your waking hours are spent in work and tearing your hair out in desperation during the daily commute, there’s just no room in the schedule for some body beautiful me time. Yes, you can try and slip into a gym, but workouts can be pretty monotonous and gym memberships can seem expensive, especially post-Christmas.

So if you’re tired of looking at your jelly belly and are keener than mustard to lose those love handles, what can you do? How about getting away from it all on a holiday that’s going to invigorate and exercise mind, body and soul.

A holiday is the perfect time to keep fit. Why? Because you have loads of it, so there’s no excuse to blame inactivity on a packed schedule. It’s not about getting ripped and sculpting the kind of body that will grace the cover of a magazine (unless you want to); more it’s about priming your body to feel rejuvenated and full of energy.

Here are seven great ideas of ways to get fit and have fun on your holiday so you are bootylicious once more:

1. Cruise the world – turn up the adventure dial to eleven and set sail on voyages of discovery. Not only do sailing holidays allow you to take in some breathtaking scenery but you’ll be enhancing your fitness levels as well. The primary benefits are your cardiovascular health, and a good old muscle work-out, as they are flexed and toned to perfection. Remember, the more wind the greater the workout.

2. Have a holiday on the piste – skiing and snowboarding are not only spine-tingling adrenalin-pumping fun, but they are tailor-made to giving your body a fitness upgrade. In addition to the healthy looking sun-kissed glow, time on the slopes, no matter your skill level will give you a great cardiovascular workout and exercise all your major muscle groups.

3. Walk, don’t run – walking is quite simply one of the best exercise disciplines there is, and doesn’t require any extra equipment than your own humble legs. It strengthens and builds bones, burns fat and calories, strengthens the heart, boosts immunity, and helps us to sleep soundly. And if you are carrying a rucksack with you you’ll be building your upper body strength as well. Walking holidays will not only enhance your general levels of fitness, but they feed your mind with wonderful experiences from all the fascinating places your two feet take you to.

4. Spinning your wheels – almost everybody can ride a bicycle and getting on yours is a wonderful opportunity to explore new areas. Whether mountain biking, off-roading or taking long leisurely day tours, a bike can benefit you in so many ways. It helps to build and maintain muscles and joints, promotes weight loss and is good for the health of the heart and lungs. And that’s just for starters!

5. Perfect your swing – a golfing holiday can be enjoyed by all ages, and is an easy way of keeping fit. Although it is a lower level fitness pursuit there are still a number of key health benefits. It’s good for bone strength, and will speed up your metabolism.

6. Riding the waves – if lying face down in the sand isn’t your thing, get active in the sun and have a blast with a challenging pursuit. Wax down your surfboard and get some big air. The health benefits include increased strength and coordination and improved cardiovascular fitness

7. Saddle Up and reap the benefits – a few days in the saddle will reveal muscles you never knew you had. It’s not just the horse that gets a good workout! Whether you try dressage, endurance riding or a little saunter on your equestrian holiday, your body will benefit by having its dorsal and abdominal muscles strengthened, and coordination is also greatly improved.

About the Author

Paul is an avid traveller with a passion for sharing his global experiences online.

Maximizing Your Cold Weather Workouts

During the colder months, many people can warm up to these four simple tips from celebrity fitness expert Jennifer Cohen to help keep up with their workouts:

• Incorporate Exercise Throughout Your Day: Put free weights at the doorway of your bedroom and move them from room to room as you go about the day, doing a few arm curls each time. At the end of the day, you’ll have a great upper body workout.

• Double Your Trips Up and Down the Stairs: Have to move laundry? Do it in two trips with small baskets instead of one, to burn extra calories and work your hamstrings and glutes.

• Take Advantage of TV Time: Keep a stretch band in the living room and do lunges to work on your arms, thighs and butt while you watch TV. Put the band under your foot and pull up with your arms.

• Outdoor Chores Count, Too: Taxing yard work such as raking leaves and cleaning gutters, chopping wood, scraping the windshield or shoveling snow can count toward fitness and weight loss. Rake leaves for an hour to burn 250 calories and shovel snow for an hour to burn up to 400 calories.

Cohen says cool fitness gadgets can be great for motivation. By using a heart rate monitor, for example, you can track your intensity level, calories burned and duration-regardless of whether it’s yard work or an intense workout session. At the gym, heart rate monitors can track your progress on whatever equipment you’re using-exercise bikes, stair-steppers-or during a group exercise class.

Heart rate is a convenient, accurate, personalized indicator of the intensity of your exercise. Using a heart rate monitor lets you set your goal, create a training program and use your exercise data to adjust the intensity of your workout accordingly. A Polar heart rate monitor can help bring your workouts to the next level by optimizing time spent at the gym, exercising at home or doing outdoor chores.

It’s also important to exercise with a goal in mind, whether that goal is weight loss, improving your general fitness or maximizing your performance for a sporting event. Create a training program to help you meet your goal that includes both cardio and strength training. You can devise a customized workout plan via free sites such as www.polarpersonaltrainer.com.

For more on heart rate training, visit www.polarusa.com/whyHR.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissue of the body. Its symptoms, in addition to pain throughout the body, can include specific tender points on the body, extreme fatigue, stiffness when waking, sleep problems, depression and memory problems. Doctors have not been able to pinpoint any specific trigger for the disease.

In the past, some doctors told patients that the symptoms they were experiencing were imaginary, while others used the illness as a diagnosis when they could not find a cause for a patient’s symptoms. Research has now shown that both of these ideas were wrong.

Recent studies have shown that many of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia have lower than normal levels of the hormone cortisol in their bodies. Scientists believe that the processes that cause fibromyalgia, including the lower levels of cortisol, affect the way that the brain receives and perceives pain signals. In those with this illness, the sensation of pain is greatly increased from what is considered normal. Current treatments for fibromyalgia include pain medications, management of stress and, if needed, lifestyle changes. However, doctors are starting to include alternative treatments such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture. Many doctors now advise their patients to incorporate yoga as a part of their overall treatment plan.

Those new to yoga will find that it is a purposely slow form of exercise consisting of three main components. The first of these components are the poses or postures (asanas in Sanskrit). There are many poses used in yoga, making its use appropriate for many different reasons. These postures help the body by allowing it to stretch gently while relieving stress and helping to strengthen the muscles. Using these postures also increases blood flow throughout the body.

The next vital part of yoga is breathing. The practitioner is encouraged to use deep breathing techniques in order to get the greatest amount of oxygen to his/her body and brain. Deep breathing is also used to relieve stress and aid in the release of tension throughout the body.

The final component of yoga is meditation. Those taking part in meditation typically report a sense of calm and awareness. This soothing energy aids the body in its natural healing process. The practitioner is usually reminded to concentrate on their breathing and to let thoughts come and go without any particular attachment to them. Meditation provides a great opportunity to become aware of the mind and body connection, to listen to the needs of the body and respond with love and healing energy.

Most fibromyalgia patients are encouraged to take part in some type of exercise, but many find that just a small amount of exercise leaves them in a great amount of pain. Unlike regular exercise, such as running on a treadmill, a stepper or using weights, yoga allows the patient to perform slow stretches and gradually develop more complex routines if desired. Most practitioners advise those with fibromyalgia to begin with basic styles of yoga such as Hatha yoga.

No matter which way a patient decides to practice yoga, through yoga videos or with an instructor in a class setting, it should become part of the daily routine. Once yoga becomes habitual fibromyalgia patients may notice changes in their pain levels, their sleep and their fatigue. When used in conjunction with a treatment plan set up by their doctor, the fibromyalgia patient may find that yoga makes that plan more effective, allowing them to gain control over their life again, without the severe pain they had previously endured.

Mom” has authored another article on SheKnows.com this week! If you are seeking the top planet-friendly picks for your active, eco-conscious friend, her latest article titled “Green Gifts for Fitness Enthusiasts” is sure to inspire! Visit SheKnows.com to read the full article.

Teaching Kids How To Keep The “Fun” In Sports

It is a milestone in any athletic parent’s life: Your child is old enough for sports, and you are ready to sign him up for whichever sport you have been craving since your baby was old enough to roll a ball across the floor. While it is an exciting time, keep in mind that your child’s first experiences with team sports will stay with him for years to come. Making sports fun from the very beginning will help your child develop a positive attitude, great team skills, and most of all to have fun! After all, why spend your time doing something you don’t enjoy? Here are some tips for teaching your kids how to keep the “fun” in sports.

Cheer Your Team, Don’t Boo the Other Team

One of the quickest ways to teach your child that sports is a negative experience is to boo the other team, especially if you do it because they win a game. Booing the other team is negative behavior—don’t even go there. Teach your child that it’s nice to congratulate the other team on winning and there is no reason to become a sore loser. Someone has to win, and someone has to lose; it’s the nature of the game. There will always be more wins and losses ahead, so teaching your child to keep composure after the game will give him a winning attitude no matter what the score.

Be Your Child’s First Cheerleader

Yes, cheerleading can be taken too far. If you are the only parent in the stands that anyone can hear, you might be taking things a bit too far. On the other hand, if you are the only one cheering at all, encourage other parents to cheer along with you. Sports games have cheerleaders for a reason—they lead the crowd in cheering for their team, adding energy to the game, and encouraging the players in a positive way. Go ahead and try it.

Encourage, Don’t Discourage

Everyone has days where they feel like they just didn’t do a great job, whether it is at home, at work or in sports. If you child missed a game-winning goal, remind him of the great job he did at something else, whether in the same game or a previous one. Point out that it happens to everyone, even you; and then tell him how it turns around. Don’t discourage him by telling him he needs to do better, but encourage him by saying he will.

Celebrate Even if Your Team Loses

Have an after-game tradition, and follow it after every game, win or lose. This way it shows your child that the reward is for playing the game itself, rather than what the scoreboard said at the end.

Heap on the Praise

Praise everyone who deserves it, including your child, teammates and even members of the other team. Show your child that it doesn’t matter if you played against someone on the field, you can be friendly afterwards. If someone made a great play, praise him. If someone almost got another player out, congratulate them on how close it was. Remember that it can be just as good to be close as it can be to win.

By keeping a few simple rules in mind, it can be easy to keep the focus on positive energy during and after a game. Avoiding negativity will give you and your child the best sports experience possible and teach him what it really means to be a good player.

About the Author

Author Johnny Patterson is a big fan of Junior Hockey and writes for US Junior Hockey News, a forum for the latest breaking news and announcements from across the United States.

Green Health and Fitness Tips

Attending to your health and fitness needs can be a difficult undertaking, especially if you’ve never really worried about it in the past. There’s definitely a learning curve associated with adopting healthy eating habits and working an exercise regimen into your daily routine. You’ll have a lot of frustrations and setbacks to contend with throughout the process and it’s all too easy to lose motivation and return to your old ways, even if you have health reasons for wanting to make a change. But the process can be even harder when you bring green sensibilities into the equation.

Luckily, the market for eco-friendly products that suit the active lifestyle has expanded in recent years, so that there are now many options to help you see to your health and fitness needs without doing more harm to the environment. You can start by choosing organic clothing options for your workout gear, and you might be surprised to find that some come with the same options as the regular fare (wick-away features and so on), but sans the chemicals, waste, and pollution that normally accompany textiles. You may also want to opt for a shoe brand that embraces eco-friendly practices, such as Nike, which offers their Reuse-a-Shoe recycling program to turn your old trainers into playground turf (amongst other things).

When it comes to equipment, you might be at something of a loss as to how to proceed, but even here there are green options. You’ll have no trouble finding items like yoga mats and Pilates balls that are made from recycled or less harmful materials, since these types of exercise are associated with a holistic kind of lifestyle. But what about weights and workout machines? Is there any way to make these items greener? As a matter of fact, there are improvements already out there (and more on the way).

You can actually find hand weights made from partially recycled materials, and if you want 100% recycled, buy them used! As for the machines at the gym that suck up power day and night, you may be surprised to learn that there are now machines that run on kinetic energy. In short, they are powered by your movement. And there are even green gym facilities (more are opening every day) that do less harm to the environment on every level by incorporating these machines, conserving energy, and using eco-friendly building materials.

As for dieting to go along with your new fitness routine, you may want to look into organic food options. Certainly it can be a bit more expensive than your average shopping trip, but if you decide to go this route there’s nothing to stop you from growing your own organic fruit and vegetable garden to help reduce costs. You may also want to include vitamins, weight loss supplements, and the like in order to meet certain health and fitness goals. This is fine as long as you consult with your doctor first and try to avoid any supplements that are chemical in nature or could have adverse effects on your overall health.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for www.getprograde.com where you can find great products and advice to help you lose weight.

Tips for Busy Moms on How to Lose Weight

By Rachel Hubbard

The word “diet” has such negative connotations that it is time to ditch it forever; but, with school starting, most moms cannot wait to develop some healthy new habits which might help them to lose a few pounds as well. Let the school year mark a new beginning and use these creative ideas to shape up and feel better in just a few weeks.

Make the Most of Movements

Movement burns calories whether it is called exercise or not. Through making the most of ordinary activities, we can ramp up our calorie burn rate without adding additional time to our days. The following suggestions may not seem like much when taken individually, but they can make a huge difference in the amount of calories burned in a week’s time.

• Lift weights or heavy cans or do deep knee bends while talking on the phone.

• Use resistance bands or weights when playing the waiting game in doctor’s offices, while on the phone, or when watching a child’s soccer practice.

• Always take the stairs, whether at home or while running errands; and, if time permits, run up and down two or three times.

• Use the weight of groceries as a means of building muscles by lifting them up and down as they are transported from the vehicle to the cabinet. Do the same with the laundry basket on the way to the utility room.

• Make a game of trying to increase the heartbeat when sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, or dusting by doing some speed cleaning – listening to some upbeat music will make this more fun!

• While playing with babies or younger children, use their weight to strengthen arms and legs by lifting and lowering them slowly from one position to another.

• Stretch for five minutes before even getting out of bed in the morning.

• Work in a visit with a friend by meeting at a local park to walk and talk, rather than meeting for a coffee.

Become a Food Fanatic

Food is not the enemy, but controlling food choices is sometimes difficult. It is important for moms wishing to lose weight to have healthy food available in a short period of time. The house should be cleared of snacks that are loaded with sugar, fat and calories to make food decisions easier. The following ideas will also help those trying to get their food consumption under control.

• Eat out of smaller bowls and plates to make portions appear larger.

• Portion out snacks of fruits and vegetables in plastic bags and keep readily available at all times.

• Try at least one new low calorie recipe out on the family each week.

• Buy no oil for cooking, and use only olive oil in small amounts for flavor.

• Slowly add more foods with high fiber content to the diet, especially whole grains.

By using a free weight loss calculator to set your personal targets, and setting a goal to work on these healthy habits during the next few weeks, the effects will be noticeable to everyone. Higher energy, a trimmer figure, and glowing skin will reward moms who make the effort to incorporate these small changes into their daily routines.

Personal Trainers Fighting Childhood Obesity – A Call to Action

As a personal trainer, you have the expertise and the chance to change lives by helping to reduce the childhood obesity rate. Too many children suffer the consequences of being overweight, from being teased in school to being less physically fit. It doesn’t have to be this way. If several trainers in each community would give just one day each week to this cause, it could have a significant impact on this generation and the children in their own futures.

In this article, you’ll learn about some of the facts of childhood obesity and why you might want to take action, how to organize fitness events, work with parents, and motivate kids to sign up for fitness programs. This kind of involvement will always come full circle as you become better known in the community.

The Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 2% of all high schools “required daily PE or its equivalent for students in all grades…for the entire year.” With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that there is an obesity epidemic in this country. Also, over half of these schools made fried foods available as a choice for the school lunch program. With the lack of exercise that children are receiving, combined with unhealthy food choices due to peer pressure or economic factors, kids just don’t have a fighting chance.

Taking Action

What was your reason for becoming a personal trainer? Do you have a love of fitness? Did you feel that it would be fun and rewarding? Are you trying to make a difference in people’s lives? What if you now have the opportunity to take your knowledge and donate a few hours each week toward helping those who need it the most: children who are 20 to 200 pounds overweight, as early as 8 years old. Kids need role models and information mixed up with enough imagination to hold their interest; you can show them the way. Your guidance can play a vital part in reversing this heartbreaking epidemic.

School Events

A good way to get started is by holding an event at a local school. If you’re worried about the logistics, then don’t be. Any school would be thrilled to help you organize an event that promoted children’s health, and parents will be happy to jump in as well.

When it comes to planning activities, make sure that they are geared towards children. “Games” are fun, whereas “exercise programs” will make any kid want to run the other direction. You could design a simple obstacle course or hold track and field events, like the 100-meter dash. Be sure to include events for physically challenged kids as well. Boot camps for kids not only sound exciting but also promote healthy competition as well as group involvement.

Working with Parents

Whether you’ve never worked with children before or have years of experience, you’ll have to sell yourself and your qualifications to their parents. Make some postcards or flyers spelling out your credentials, certifications, continuing education requirements and experience. Parents are the key to your success and if they believe you are sincere and committed, they will take your cause “to the mattresses.”

Also, be sure to let them know that you are trained in CPR and first aid and are insurable (the school or PTA or event organizer may want to take out insurance, which is a win-win for you both). Anything that you can do to prove to parents that you’re qualified, dependable, and trustworthy will help to get them on your side.

More than a One-Time Event

Holding special fitness events for children is a great thing on its own, but you should strive to get kids signed up for ongoing classes. In fact, those classes could be held by you! Not only will you benefit financially, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re getting kids to lead healthier lifestyles.

You can make a huge difference in children’s lives by using your knowledge and skills to help them make lifestyle changes. Tell others about your plans, and you’ll be surprised to see how many people will be supportive and help to make your idea a reality.

About the Author

Anthony Jefferies is fitness instructor who also works with parents’ groups and contributes content for playground equipment companies providing imaginative structures for kids, so they can spend more time outdoors in active play.

*Image: Go Play, Get Fit Youth Day by Port of San Diego/flickr*