What We Eat Matters in Weight Loss – Exercise Not So Much

imagesGT7Y4J7NIt was a real treat to take our  time and focus on everything I write about. One of the things I learned over the years is that it is not necessary to train like a maniac in order to receive the benefits of a fit body that can do what you need it to do. I am not opposed to working like a “maniac” when it is called for, but too often I see people training in quiet desperation thinking  they will lose weight because of exercising. Of course exercise is great for all of us, but the intent of why many people exercise is old school thinking: to burn calories, lose weight, or punish oneself for overeating. I want to help people change this kind of thinking.
P.S. The picture above is not me training at the hotel  but it motivates me because I cannot imagine someone looking like that and eating well…crap. I imagine she got her muscles from working out , but got her lean body composition from eating  like a champ! Which is exactly what today’s news is  about.
Image result for food mattersOne of the concepts that I want people to understand  is that  fitness is part of health – yes, but that weight maintenance/loss, and being lean is a matter of what you eat.
Think About This
How many people do you know that train in the gym, or run and bike miles daily yet are overweight?
I am not about not exercising. Exercise is extremely important in aging well and changing the physiological responses in the body positively. The problem is that the mindset that many people have regarding movements effects on weight loss is incorrect. The mindset being  that exercise will cause us to lose weight is the real reason people are not losing weight. By having this mindset we deny the real reasons we cannot lose weight and obtain the body we desire. The fact is – food matters.  What we choose to eat and not eat is extremely important in weight loss. This understanding is so central to being able to lose weight that in my 30 Days to Lean Program, I do not even discuss exercise other than to say… do something you enjoy a few minutes a day. No pressure. Just enjoy.
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Awareness  is Key
There is a direct correlation in what we eat and how much weight we lose!  There is little correlation in how much we exercise and weight loss. It’ s a tough realization for many, but for those who are up to the challenge, it makes all the difference in living well. As one member who lost 24 pounds in 8 weeks said, ” I used to exercise like a nut. 90 minutes everyday in the gym for 20 years, and for that I have gained 20 pounds in 20 years. Now, I am sensible. I eat well and I exercise moderately. I am not deprived and I love my daily eating practices. I do not feel deprived either. And most importantly, no one could have told me I would love my new eating and exercise life. I never believed it myself! The words freeing and liberating come to mind.”
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Here’s a Challenge For You.
The next time you go into the gym, take a walk, run, bicycle ride, improve your strength, stretch your body, practice balancing, or implement any of the exercises in the  Totally Tone newsletters,  exercise not because you are aiming to burn calories and  lose weight, but because it is part of being a healthy person. Say to yourself,  “This exercise is designed to improve my physical conditioning but it will not cause me to lose weight.”  This realization that  it is not exercise that will cause one to be trim looking is central to going at the root cause of why one may be overweight.  No longer can one  use exercise to atone for poor eating practices. Instead one will have to make the needed mind shift that exercise is for conditioning the body and that it is separate from the ability to lose weight.
Food matters not only in bringing health to our bodies, but in ridding the body of excess fat. By de-emphasizing training like a maniac, one  can focus on what they eat  as a means to transforming their bodies and their lives. You can have the awareness that there is a direct correlation in what you  eat and how much weight you lose!  Yes,  it’ s a tough realization for many, but for those who are up to the challenge it makes all the difference in living well.

Can You Do The Things You Need to Do Without Getting Tired?

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Strengthening, Stretching and Balance

You get it that strengthening, stretching, and balance are all important right?
But how do we know how much strength we need? How much flexibility we need? And how much balance we need? These are the real questions we need to be asking ourselves. Not everyone is conditioning for a chosen sport  such as golf, tennis, biking, running or skiing. Some people may need just enough conditioning/toning for gardening, cleaning their homes, playing with the grandkids, their own kids, or traveling about.
Upshot Strength Question:
Can I do the things I need to do throughout the day without getting too tired in the muscles.
If your answer is no, then you need to up your strength in the weight department. That usually means going to the gym.
Everyone has a different daily routine- some are vigorous and some are not so much. Your level of strength needs to match what you want to do.
Realize
Often we think we do not want to do something we once loved, like gardening or hikes in the woods, mainly because we are deconditioned. Passion for what we used to do can often be reignited by strengthening our bodies, increasing the joint range of motion, and feeling grounded in balance.  Cardiovascular fitness plays a role in heart conditioning but this newsletter is not directly about cardiovascular training.
How Do We Know We Are Strong Enough? Flexible Enough? And Balanced Enough?
When you can do what you want to do without getting overly fatigued and thoroughly enjoy the activity, then, and only then are you as strong, flexible, and balanced as you need to be.
Don’t confuse this with training in the gym however. When you are in the gym lifting weights, fatigue is what we need to aim for. Why? Because a fatigued muscle is a stronger muscle. And a stronger muscle can put up with the demands of either your chosen sport or whatever you need or desire to do daily.
The intent for many people after age 40 is usually not to be in the gym because they love it, but to be in the gym so they may be able to do what they want to do! That’s why I go. This is in sharp contrast to years ago when I was in the gym because of the love of it! Now I condition just enough for my chosen sport which is tennis, and to keep my back  from caving forward from increased computer usage.
Thinking You Need To Step Things Up?
Do these exercises several times before we meet again.
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Balance:
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Hold for one minute each leg.
 Strength:
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Hold for one minute  keeping abdominals pressed in supporting back ( build time incrementally).
Stretch
Hold for one minute receiving stretch in lower back and front of thigh/quadriceps.
Balance Strength and Stretch:
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Hold for one minute ( build time incrementally).
Reverse sides.

Best Approaches for Exercise

imagesN12RDV2HYou get it that strengthening, stretching, and balance are crucial in being able to do what you want to do.
You get it that strengthening, stretching, and balance can be improved regardless of age.
You get it that your level of strength, range of motion and sense of balance needs to match life’s activities.
And you get it that strengthening, stretching, and balance play a large role in decreasing the aging process.
So Now What?
All this insight must be put into action. Don’t let it overwhelm you though. Too often we think in terms of all or nothing when it comes to change. This all or nothing approach, or what I call immersion, needs to be tempered with gradual progressive habit change otherwise we risk reverting back to old habits. Conditioning our mind to do exercise begins with small baby steps. And it should begin with baby steps since injury risk increases with age.
Here’s What I Mean
When it comes to exercise we need to acknowledge where we are at physically and where we want to be physically. Then, it’s just a matter of bridging the gap through what is called progressive overload of the body. Progressive overload simply means that we increase our training load ( example: increasing weights in a gym more progressively as it gets easy. Practicing holding a balance position longer as it gets easier. And increasing the range of motion in a joint progressively as it gets easier.)
Ask Yourself These 3 Questions:
1. Can I do the things I need to do throughout the day without getting too tired in the muscles?
If your answer is no, then you need to up your strength in the weight department. That usually means going to the gym.
Everyone has a different daily routine- some are vigorous and some are not so much. Your level of strength needs to match what you want to do. But remember, you must be wise and increase your strength progressively!
2. Can I move in various positions without feeling strain? If the answer is no, then you gotta increase your flex, called range of motion or ROM for short.
3. Do I feel balanced in various activities throughout the day? For example, I notice that some people have difficulty moving up stairs swiftly. Their ability to balance on one leg as when ascending stairs is a little wobbly. If you are feeling even a little wobbly, then it’s time to work on balance as stairs are for most people a daily living activity. * Often the wobbles while ascending stairs is a condition of leg strength too. You would be smart to practice both strength and balance.
Thinking You Need To Step Things Up?
Do these exercises several times before we meet again.
Balance
 Image result for one leg balance
 Strength
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Stretch
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Balance Strength and Stretch:
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What To Do if Slowing Down is Not in Your Plans.

Here’s The Thing.
We need to strengthen our bodies to continue to do what we want to do. We need to stretch our bodies so the strength we gained can be turned into functional movement that feels easy. And we need to hone in on practicing balance to tie things all together.
Simple as it sounds, if tying your shoes while balancing on one leg is impossible for you,  then hitting the ski slopes with robust, playing a physical round of tennis, or maintaining your consistent golf strokes for 18 holes, soon yields itself to not just  injury, but premature loss of vim and vigor before it  really is your time to slow down. This is called premature aging. Too often we slow down before we need to.
Is Slowing Down Before Your Time Not in Your Plans?
Then turn it around. Here’s where to begin: If these exercises are too basic for you, stick around anyways each week, as you are sure to get lots of insight to go along with all the action plans. Brain and brawn working together! Stay tuned. And do these exercises several times before we meet again.
I Want You to Know:
We are all going to age. But aging before our time doesn’t have to happen.
1. You can practice balance anywhere.
2. You can practice stretching  anywhere.
3. You can practice strengthening your body anywhere but for best results and to prevent injury go to your gym and see your training pros.
Balance:
Image result for pretty girl balancing on one leg
Hold for one minute each leg. skirt and high heels optional.
Strength:
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Hold for one minute squeezing the gluteal muscles.
Stretch
Image result for back extension on floor supine
Hold for one minute receiving stretch in back of upper leg ( hamstring0.
Balance Strength and Stretch:
Image result for pretty girl balancing on one leg
Hold for one minute: back flat.
Front Knee bent and over ankle.
Fingers tips slightly touching floor.
Back leg slightly extended.
Reverse sides.

Achy Hips and Back? Why and What to Do About It. 3 Exercises To Start Now.

There are many reasons for achy hips and backs but common reasons have to do with too much repetitive movement or  lack of movement/ sedentary living.

The extremes of living on both ends can cause back and hip flare ups that are painful and debilitating.

The joke in the gym amongst  my clients when I come in to train them while feeling  stiff and achy is that I tell them I over trained on the tennis courts.  This answer works like a charm, because if I tell them I sat on my bottom all day long writing, it is not too impressive – especially when you are telling them what to do to keep in shape. Training hard in sport is so much more respectable, so I always go with that as a reason!  You may find it can work for you too!

Below are 3 exercises that are daily musts for alleviating the pain and inflammation due to extremes of lifestyles whether you find yourself suddenly overactive, or suddenly inactive. Regardless, maintaining a daily regimen of these exercises goes a long  way in preventing long term hip and back issues. And one last note: Do these exercises more often daily if you are in moderate back and hip pain. A good guide to follow is simple – if you feel better as you do the exercises then continue. If it feels worse then discontinue and try the next day. If still no improvement then seek a doctor to check on common ailments like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

Bridging

Bridging, strengthens core muscles of the lower back and buttocks, while stretching the hip flexors.” The hip flexors, or psoas muscle area, play an important role in keeping the lower back strong and healthy.

  1. Begin this exercise by lying on your back.
  2. Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and keep your arms at your side, against the floor.
  3. Gently lift your pelvic region into the air, as high as you comfortably can.
  4. Hold for several seconds.
  5. Return hips to ground.

The Pelvic Tilt

The pelvic tilt increases range of motion and flexibility of the pelvic region.  Like the previous exercise, the pelvic tilt helps to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic and abdominal regions, which can provide the support one needs to avoid back pains and strains.

  1. Begin this exercise on your back.
  2. Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and place your arms across your chest area.
  3. Contract your abdominal muscles by tightening and squeezing in that area while pressing your lower back to the floor, so there is no space between the floor and your lower back.
  4. Be sure to keep breathing normally as you contract these muscles. Beginners often tend to hold their breath during this exercise.
  5. Hold for 1-3 seconds, while breathing normally.
  6. Relax and repeat up to 10 times, or as many times as you are comfortable.

The Cat and Camel Stretch

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Like with the previous exercises, breathing plays a key role in the cat and camel stretch.

  1. Begin this exercise on all fours, with your knees and hands on the ground.
  2. Start to round your back with your head down while exhaling. This position should resemble a frightened cat with their upper back rounded near the neck.
  3. Reverse this position by allowing your back to relax and lower. This should resemble the valley between a camel’s two humps.
  4. Be sure to inhale and exhale as you move through this exercise.
  5. Repeat up to 10 times, or as many times as you are comfortable

 

Status Symbol

Exercises like these will be helpful for people with arthritis by strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints. And Importantly, these exercises, if done several times while seated for long periods of time ( at the computer for example) will keep back and hip stiffness at bay. Perhaps most importantly though, these exercises can be flaunted as  a status symbol that you exercised vigorously  in athletics such as with  tennis, running, golfing and other sports that push the body in rigorous ways. As you know, it’s not age causing you to be more stiff, it’s that rigorous lifestyle of yours! That’s my story and I am sticking to it!