Here we talk about everything relating to exercise, movement, and energy.
Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, And since we’ve no place to go, Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
When I hear that song, I think of staying inside by the fire and drinking hot cocoa all day. In a perfect world that might work, but this is the real world (no claymation needed) and we all have the same goals to lose weight and be healthy. I know the weather isn’t going to be playing nice with us most of the time and putting on our winter clothes can be a hassle, but its very important that we get our Accelerators done one way or another. Accelerators are very important to our weight loss. Let’s not sell ourselves short and try rationalizing our way out of doing them. We have come a long way and we can’t let a little bit of cold weather derail our progress. It’s going to be cold every year and you know it’s going to happen, so let’s stay focused, put on our long johns and get moving! Accelerators can be walking, biking, swimming, ellipticals, and anything that keeps us moving in the daily assigned intervals. We can do them inside or outside, in a gym, in our home or in a mall while holiday shopping. It doesn’t matter where, just get it done! Let’s fire up that metabolism and stay warm this winter!
I don’t need to tell you how important it is to value, truly value yourself. Okay, let me take that back, I do feel like I have to tell you, over and over again. It’s easy to forget about the little things in life we do for ourselves to have confidence and feel good! Using both your time and money on things that keep you happy and healthy are always a great investment. Unfortunately, there are things working against our health on a daily basis in our offices and in our home. Hopefully, the more aware we are of forces working against health and happiness, the more prepared with Reshape the Nation we’ll be to combat them!
I suppose we all know a little about the dangers surrounding our lives at the office, mainly time spent staring at a computer screen. On that note, while I was doing some research for a weight loss article, I came across a story in the NYTimes about the former information I already knew but chose to file away. Yes, sitting at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time, akin to the amount you usually spend at the office, causes considerable irreparable damage. Great— not only does it take away from your quality of life, albeit sitting under fluorescent bulbs, the reason for it is a little different than we’ve thought.
I’ve always been told that if you work in front of a computer and spend most of the day sitting down, then exercise can compensate the sedentary lifestyle. Apparently not the case anymore… A recent study, published this week in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, indicated that the amount of leisure time spent sitting in front of a screen (computer or TV) has such an overwhelming negative impact on your health that physical activity produces little affect. The study found that those who spent two or more hours a day in front of a screen were at double the risk of a heart attack or cardiac event than those who watched less. Those who spent four or more hours in front of the screen were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause. Ahem… what?!? Crap, I’d better get up and go move around!
How to combat the ominous outlook? Cut down on the screen time! Another study found that when overweight adults cut their TV time in half, they burned more calories than those who watched five hours or more a day. Light activities adults filled their time with, like reading or playing board games, burned more calories than watching TV. (You still want that 52” plasma? No thanks, I think I’ll go for a walk instead…)
After that soap-box tangent, I want to bring the focus back to value and investment. I kind of like the idea of cutting down on the recreational screen time to spend time and energy on where it matters most, me. Investing in the things that bring me happiness (not unrelated to health, good health=feel good=happy), is a good way to bring the focus back. And what’s any weight loss or diet plan without focus? Exactly. Stay focused on the goals ahead, stop to smell the roses, and reward yourself with the things that make you happy.
A reader recently wrote in and asked if they could benefit from Reshape the Nation if they were in a wheel chair since most of the movement of the program is done using the lower body.
Chris Powell, trainer and transformation specialist, answers the reader’s question in this weeks video blog. Reshape the Nation is for everyone, regardless of what your physical limitations are!
Thank you for the question, and keep up the good work!
‘Tis the season for traveling! If you didn’t go anywhere during the summer months, maybe you will go visit family in the upcoming holiday season. Whatever the case may be, let’s talk about Reshaping when you’re on the road!
Whenever you travel, it’s important to try to plan ahead with your menu or meal plan, so that you don’t end up stuck starving in some airport terminal, giving in to whatever unhealthy snacks airports have to offer.
Now I won’t say ALL options in the airport are this way, but undoubtedly, most won’t give you the best nutrition to allow you to stick with your menu plan on Reshape The Nation. What are you to do, go hungry? Eventually being so ravenous that you eat a seemingly harmless mini pizza , soft serve “yogurt”, cola, cookies, etc… Before you know it, you’re well into your 4th or 5th meal of the day, before noon…Probably not the best way to travel, shoot; I would even recommend carrot sticks over all of the above! (You can quote me on that)
Now before I kindly make suggestions about better options for you in those types of places, the best thing to do from the start is plan ahead! Because I am a vegetarian by choice, I have to plan ahead anyway, so it only follows suite that I would do the same when I’m traveling, but obviously, it’s not that easy.
You should really sit down and take a moment to see what people eat on the go in places like airports. Anything that can lead to wanting more, or the “addictive foods”, are everywhere in airports! So packing your own snacks is a good start! Bring with you, on your carry-on, some low carb protein bars and nuts to sustain you during your travels..You know those granola bars that airports kindly offer as their go-to healthy food, pack a lot of punch in both calories and sugary carbohydrates. I’m not asking you to count calories necessarily, that’s why Reshape works so well. You don’t have to count anything calories, carbs, fiber, etc.; we do the work for you, so you don’t have to! If you are traveling on a high carb day, pack some berries and some plain almonds, because as high in fat as almonds are, if you take your time to eat them, a few of them will fill you up much more so than some greasy hash browns. If you are prepping your food to travel with, plan it out accordingly so that you have enough food and snacks with you that you don’t have to spend money unnecessarily at the airport on food items that may render you feeling “guilty” anyway. If you are traveling with a cooler or ice pack, you can almost always guarantee that low-fat mozzarella string cheese would be an option for a lean protein in one of your meals or as a snack. A little planning can go a long way, the time spent will be well worth it when you don’t give in and end up feel guilty if you choose a Reward food on a non-reward day.
Slow down during this upcoming season of travel and holiday… Take some time to plan ahead, taking your daily Reshape routine with you wherever you go; I promise you won’t regret it.
Chris wants to give you your power back so you can take control of your fitness health. Some of you while on Reshape The Nation suffer from ankle, knee, and hip issues. Because of these physical limitations, you may find that doing some of the movements in your fitness section difficult or seemingly impossible at this time.
Check out Chris Powell’s new video, where he answers a Reshape members question about physical limitations when doing some exercises. He’ll explain how to work up to being able to do most, if not all of the movements in your fitness section!
Also, remember that mixing in yoga and other non-weight bearing stretches and exercises are great way to get moving! You can do this guys, at home, at the gym, in your pool, any movement is positive!
A little bit at a time goes a long way when you are moving, period, just do it for yourself!
Anyone who ever developed a semi-regular habit of exercise has experienced a “weak day.” Hopefully you know what I’m referring to. A “weak day” is the kind of day where you start your exercise routine—be it at the gym, at home, in the pool, on the street, or wherever you exercise—and simply can’t do as much as you’ve done before. You can’t lift as much weight, or you can’t run as far, or you can’t do as many push-ups, and you get frustrated. You feel like you’ve failed.
I had a weak day this morning. I sensed it as soon as my 6:00 AM alarm sounded. Normally, a few reps into my workout I can shake it off, but not this morning. I couldn’t lift as much weight as I normally do. I couldn’t push myself as hard during my run. Heck, I even feel like I’m about to fall asleep while writing this post! I just feel low on energy.
Weak days most often occur on “Low Days” (low carb days for those of you following the Chris Powell carb cycling program from Reshape The Nation), but they can also occur on High Days. Their causes can be as obvious as limiting your carb intake or over-exercising (yes… it is possible!), or as nebulous as stress, distractedness, and probably even the alignment of the stars (though I can’t be sure on this last one). Lucky for us, when these weak days occur—when we fail to exercise as successfully as we normally do—we’re actually still succeeding.
Exercise isn’t meant to be easy. If it were, I suppose it wouldn’t be called exercise because we wouldn’t be exerting ourselves… we’d call it “relaxercise,” and that just looks ridiculous! Instead, exercise is hard and hard things often lead to failure (perhaps the only lesson I still remember from my freshman year organic chemistry class). But in the case of exercise, the real goal isn’t numerical—to run a faster mile, to lift more weight, or even to lose pounds. The goal of exercising is to improve the overall health of our bodies. As a result, success isn’t determined by numbers, it’s determined by the act of exercising. When we “fail” to achieve numerical success while exercising, we’re still achieving the more important success of improved and sustained health and happiness.
Hey there fellow Reshapers! There has been some confusion on some of the fitness recommendation videos of Reshape the Nation. A few weeks ago, a Reshape member wrote in and inquired about how on a Sunday, there were still accelerators when the section said that there were two rest days in a row. Well I looked into this and asked Chris Powell, trainer, and our tech department to see if it was a technical glitch. As it turns out, and thank you for bringing it to our attention, that both Chris Powell and tech thought that it would be good if there was an option to do accelerators if a member chooses to. To clear things up for anyone else that may be wondering this, we went ahead and changed the duration to ‘NA’ so that you don’t feel like you have to do accelerators if you don’t want to, but they are an option at ReshapetheNation.com
Here was the original question to me by the member:
“Yesterday was a rest day, (Saturday, June 26)
I had down that today, (Sunday, June 27) is the 2nd rest day in a row.
My activity page today (Sunday, June 27) shows no workout, but 15
minutes of accelerators with no intensity recommendation. And has the
accelerator videos instead of the rest videos.
Todays Workout: Weekend
Duration: 15 min | Intensity “
Hope this helps:
On the weekends we have a playlist of all the accelerators displayed, and
it is optional for members to do the accelerators if they want to. The area will display ‘optional’ instead of 15 minutes on the
accelerator time. The 15 minutes always showed up by default, so we went ahead and changed it, the intensity will now be set to be NA so it will be clearer to members that it is an optional workout, not a necessary one.
Just remember that you are doing really good things for yourself , and if on the weekends, you have a lot of energy to expend and want to do some of the accelerators, go for it! If you want to relax and rest, why not just go for a long walk instead? Movement is a key part of this program to lose weight healthily, and moving around in any manner will only help you along! Please continue to let us know if there is something that is not clear in any part of the ReshapetheNation.com fitness plan or meal plan.
Keep it up guys!
Like most things in life, exercising is better with company. Back in college, when I first established my exercise routine, I’d always go to the gym with the same two friends. It was a chance for us to catch up, hang out, and get fit. When I graduated and found myself alone, exercising got a lot less exciting. Instead of enjoying two hours of socializing, I found myself listening to my MP3 player in a quasi-anti-social state and trudging through my workouts. Sure, I still exercised, but it wasn’t as enjoyable. And I can imagine that, had I not already built my routine with friends in college, I would have had trouble maintaining it.
When I met my soon-to-be-wife, we both maintained our own exercise schedules. I’d workout in the mornings at my gym, and she’d workout in the evenings at her gym. However, as we grew closer, we decided to try exercising together. It was one of the best decisions of my healthy living routine. Instead of workouts being a solitary time, exercising became an activity we did as a couple. I know that sounds a little sappy, and it probably is. But combining our exercise routines also made regularly exercising much easier, much more enjoyable, and much more likely. Now, if one of us doesn’t feel like going, the other is there to push us. If one of us is running hard, the other tries to keep up. It becomes a driving force behind success, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I’m not necessarily saying you have to go to the gym with your significant other (though if you have that kind of relationship, consider giving it a try). But I am suggesting you find a workout partner. Whether it’s a friend, loved one, or even a colleague from work you don’t mind sweating with during your lunch break, having someone to exercise with makes the exercise process infinitely more enjoyable. Better yet, why not join Reshape the Nation with a friend or loved one? You’ll be able to support each other on your journey to a healthier, happier life.
By now, I hope a lot of the people reading the Reshape the Nation blog have started exercising at least more regularly than they had been. Sure, you might not be doing “two-a-days,” but you should at least be more active and gradually moving toward and regular exercise routine. If you’re not… well… stop reading today’s blog post right now and go for a 30 minute walk.
I’m serious… do it. I know you’ll miss me, but this post will still be here when you get back. I’ll wait…
There… don’t you feel better? Now, back to today’s fitness advice. You’ve probably heard this phrase before: “No Pain, No Gain.” Essentially, it means whatever exercise you’re doing, if you’re not finding it at least a little challenging (the “pain” part), you won’t benefit from it (the “gain” part). Yes, your exercise routine should feel a little challenging (as I mentioned in a previous post), but, Chris Powell also tries to emphasize in his Reshape program that you need to be careful not to hurt yourself. For people who already have well-established fitness routines they’ve been following for years, one of the most common reasons they get out of their exercise habit is because of injury. So now that you’ve started building a healthy exercise habit, we don’t want you to have a set back due to injury. Remember, work hard, but not so hard you hurt yourself.
In a previous post, I wrote about ensuring your exercise routine is increasing in strenuousness as you improve your overall fitness and well-being. Well, that post got me thinking, and we all know when Aaron starts thinking about something, his subsequent post turns into a rambling hybrid of brilliance, common sense, and absurdity. Uh-oh… here we go again!
One of the ways in which I ensure myself of a sufficient workout challenge is to take classes at my local gym. There are all sorts of classes you can take, from “Boot Camp” classes, to dance classes, to yoga classes, and, my personal favorite, spin classes.
For those of you who’ve never taken a spin class, while it’s not necessarily a requirement Chris Powell suggests on his daily to-do list for Reshape the Nation, it’s a great way to get a surprisingly enjoyable workout. A spin class is basically like riding a stationary bike for an hour alongside 30 other sweaty, stinking people, and pedaling (spinning) at whatever speed and resistance the leader of the class tells you to. I realize that description doesn’t make it sound very fun. But I’m a naturally competitive person. When I’m surrounded by 30 people doing the same thing as me, I want to be the best. So I do silly things like watch everyone else and make sure I’m pedaling faster than them. The result is a more strenuous workout, and more calories burned.
Even if you don’t get your jollies from trying to go faster than everyone else on a bicycle that… well… isn’t actually moving, classes are still a great way to keep motivated. Classes push you harder, they give you supervision from an expert, and you might even make new friends who can become partners in setting your fitness goals. Additionally, a side benefit of taking classes is that they essentially schedule you a workout time. For example, if you know you need to be at the gym by 6:30 AM or else miss your class, you’ll be more motivated to get out of bed and get to the gym.
How was that for a rambling post? Still, I hope it had some interesting pointers. For me, I belonged to gyms for years before ever trying one of the classes. When I finally did, I regretted not having started taking classes much sooner. So give a class a shot. You might just end up finding a great exercise solution you thoroughly enjoy. And an exercise solution we enjoy produces an exercise regimen we keep.
I occasionally hear complaints from people who claim to exercise regularly but see no change in their weight. The first part of my response when I hear these kinds of complaints is to remind people that weight loss is not necessarily the equivalent of being healthy. Moving, exercising, and getting active does all sorts of wonderful things for your body beyond simple cutting the L-B-S’s, and that’s why the Chris Powell Reshape the Nation program encourages so much activity. Exercise strengthens the heart, lowers cholesterol, improves flexibility, and offers enough other health benefits that I could (and probably should) write an entire fitness blog post on it. Actually, I could probably write an entire year’s worth of blog posts about how important exercise is in ways that are not directly related to looking good in a bikini, so I’m sure you’ll hear more about this topic soon enough. The point is, for now, to remind us all again that exercise does not have to equal weight loss.
The second part of my response is to suggest that, while getting active is great, as we become more active, we need to increase the strenuousness of our physical activity in order to see increased results. For example, when you start your Reshape the Nation trial you’ll see that Chris Powell structures his daily accelerators (the exercise portion of the program) in a way that necessitates increased time for improved endurance and health. Yes, for some people simply walking for a half hour every day is a dramatic improvement to their overall activity levels. But after a while, those same people might have to walk for 45 minutes, and then combine jogging with walking, and then start jogging/walking for an hour, and then jogging the entire time, and on and on and on until they’re running marathons.
So when you do exercise, make sure you’re always trying to increase your resistance, increase your time, increase the weight, etc, ensuring that as you become more physically fit you allow your body to utilize its newfound strength and energy to its fullest potential.
And as a quick afterthought to today’s nugget of fitness advice, I realize the concept of increasing the level of your workout might seem obvious. But don’t be fooled. Even I find myself in ruts where I realize I’ve been doing repetitions on the same weight level for three or four straight months when I should be increasing weights. Just like in any repetitive action, if we’re not careful, we can become complacent. Part of my job at Reshape the Nation is to remind everyone not to become complacent, myself included!
In yesterday’s post I encouraged everyone to do some simple walking as a way to add physical activity to their daily routines. Today, I’d like to suggest some ways to incorporate walking that aren’t just the accelerators from Chris Powell. Not that you shouldn’t do the daily Reshape the Nation accelerators Chris Powell encourages as a part of his fitness program. Just that it certainly doesn’t hurt to do more walking, especially if we can incorporate it in ways that seem natural.
1. Walk to the store
Running out for milk? Just need to grab some sugar for those cupcakes you have to make for little Suzy’s class tomorrow? Trying to get out of the house for a few minutes before your husband/wife/dog/parakeet drives you crazy? Instead of driving to the store, have you ever considered walking to the store? Mind you, I live in the middle of a city, so I walk just about everywhere I go. But in most cases, walking to the store might take you only a few minutes longer than driving, but could be a lot healthier. Of course, if it’s going to take you 45 minutes to walk to the store, the car might be a more reasonable option. But if the difference is driving five minutes versus walking 15 minutes, consider taking a walk. Just think of it as more time to relax.
2. Take the stairs
Yes, the elevator is always so tempting. But if you’re in the mall, your office, or your apartment building and you’re only going up three or four floors, why not take the stairs? It wont’ take much longer than the elevator, and you will have added a little more activity to your daily routine.
3. Don’t worry about getting the closest spot
This one always makes me laugh when I witness it. I’ll be riding in the car with someone else driving, we’ll be going to a crowded store, and the driver will spend five minutes driving circles around the parking spot just for a closer spot. Of course, if the driver had just parked in the first spot he saw, even if that spot was at the back of the lot, he’d already be in the store and shopping. So don’t always worry about getting the closest spot. In fact, never worry about getting the closest spot. Take a far spot and walk. Chances are you’ll save time and add a few extra steps into your daily routine.
No, I don’t meaning pacing in a nervous sense. I mean pacing as a way to add a few extra yards, or even miles to your day. For example, I tend to have long phone conversations. But whether I’m on a conference call for work, or talking with friends, I’ll pace around the house. Why not, right? I’m not doing anything else… so I might as well get a little exercise in.
5. Get a dog you have to walk
OK… this isn’t exactly a simple addition to your life, but maybe I’m trying to live vicariously through our Reshape readers because I really want a dog. Still, if a dog will help make you active, it’s not a bad option. And if you already have a dog you don’t regularly walk, why not? Just like it’s not good for us to sit around the house today, it’s not good for our little four-legged friends, either. So hook fluffy to a leash, and get moving. You’ll both be happier and healthier. And maybe fluffy won’t chew up as many shoes…
That’s my list for now. If you have other ideas we can better incorporate movement, post them int eh comments section, add them on our Facebook account, Tweet them @reshapenation, or just email them to me: aaron (at) reshapethenation.com. Mind you, each of these ways to incorporate extra movement into our daily lives won’t, by themselves, cause the pounds to fall off. But if we combine them, and if we do them regularly, they’ll add up to a lot of extra exercise and a lot of lost pounds without a lot of lifestyle change. Pretty cool, huh?
A lot of people think the best way to lose weight is sweating profusely at the gym. To be honest, they’re kind of right… at least in the sense that if you spend five hours a day exercising in the gym, it’s a really good way to lose weight. But is it the “best way” to lose weight? Well… let’s define “best.” To me, the best way to lose weight isn’t simply the exercise that burns the most calories, or the diet program that produces the most efficient calorie-intake level. The best weight loss program is going to be a program you can actually follow. It makes sense, right? We all know exercising five hours a day will help us lose weight. We all know eating only correct portions of healthy foods will shrink our waist size. But knowing those truths doesn’t necessarily make following a diet and exercise program easy. Instead, we should look for healthy lifestyle options that are reasonable and easy to incorporate into our daily lives. (Here’s where I’ve got to put a shameless plug in for Chris Powell and the Reshape the Nation program because that’s exactly what we try to do… but you already knew that, right?)
So this week, instead of encouraging you to trudge to gym every day, I’m going to suggest something different. Yes, I realize while I might be able to convince you to go to the gym every day this week, I’m going to have more trouble convincing you to go to the gym every day next week. And even more trouble the week after. And on and on until you’re burnt out from exercising, and then all the success you had from those few weeks of determined exercising will be gone, along with your motivation. Instead, take a walk around the block. Yup… right now, if you can. If you’re at work, on your lunch break, try to take a 30 minute stroll around the office. If you’re at home, step outside for some fresh air and a brisk foot-tour of the neighborhood. Bring the dog if you have one. Or your children. Or even your pet iguana if he’ll walk on a leash and won’t scare the neighbors.
As simple as it sounds, incorporating 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine is a simple, easy to follow way to lose weight and improve your overall health. Even Chris Powell, trainer guru and lean, mean, fat-burning machine, emphasizes walking as the best form of exercise for weight loss in his Reshape the Nation program. He emphasizes walking because it’s easy to do and it works. You don’t need any fancy equipment. You don’t need a lot of space. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes.
A lot of people think a good weight loss workout means you have to push yourself to the max. Not true! Don’t get me wrong, a heart-pounding workout can be great for your body, but when it comes to exercising for optimal weight loss, you actually don’t want your heart pumping up in the 80%-90% of max range. You want to keep your heart rate closer to 70% of it’s max. Surprising, huh? But if you’ve ever been on some sort of cardio machine (a bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc.) you’ll notice it encourages a lower heart rate for optimal fat burning.
Still, there’s something else you want to keep in mind when searching for the optimal heart rate for weight loss and exercise. Don’t keep a constant pace. You actually want to fluctuate your pace in order to increase and decrease your heart rate. This means you should have intervals of harder cardio workouts, and intervals of recovery. I won’t get you bogged down by the science of why interval training is the best fat burning exercise, but the basics are that, by fluctuating the intensity of your workout, you’re actually burning an increased amount of calories from fat during your recovery period. Pretty cool, huh?
One thing I want to emphasize is that you don’t need a gym or expensive cardio machines for effective interval training. When you check out my Reshape the Nation program you’ll discover the daily “accelerators” we’ve created feature a more intense movement, followed by a less intense recovery period. They’re interval training! And you don’t need a gym or a fancy piece of equipment to do it. All you need is a little motivation! Well here it is: It’s Friday, it’s April, the weather is beautiful (or hopefully is where you are), and today’s a great day to get moving! So let’s get started!
Happy weekend, everybody! And happy accelerating!
People often claim TV has made Americans less healthy. And those people are probably right. Surely, we’ve all experienced a time or two (hundred) when we opted to watch TV instead of doing something active. But that doesn’t mean TV has to be all bad. In fact, I don’t remember how I used to get through an hour on the treadmill before the days of television.
OK… I’m not really that old. I haven’t lived a day without easy access to a TV. But in terms of working out, TV is a relatively new addition. If you haven’t been to any sort of somewhat-up-to-date gym recently, you might be in for a shock. Just about every cardio machine (i.e. treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, etc.) has a personal television built in, giving the user full access to all that cable-y goodness we convince ourselves we simply can’t miss as we look for reasons not to exercise.
Here’s my advice: Choose a favorite show (or multiple favorite shows, depending on the frequency) and, instead of watching it from your couch, watch it while walking on a treadmill. This way you get to watch your show and exercise at the same time! Plus, if your spouse likes to scold you for spending too much time watching TV and not helping around the house, he or she can’t be mad at you if you just happen to be watching TV while exercising. You’re doing something important for your health… it’s not your fault there’s a TV involved.