Category Archives: Active lifestyle

Walk This Way, or Else…

You can walk this way, or else… you may end up suffering from the consequences of being sedentary.

Sedentary

We already know that walking and staying active is SO important to our health & wellness.

But do you understand the negative impact we face by not getting enough steps? Or for sitting too long?

We’ll answer this as we wrap up our “walking” habit for Month 5.

So what’s with this week’s title?

Well, last week I built our theme around a great Pink Floyd song to help you maximize your daily step count with machines. This week, I couldn’t help but incorporate a great Aerosmith song to reinforce the importance of walking.

We’ve all heard and read about the importance of taking 10,000 steps every day (aka 10K a day!). In fact, over the past 4 weeks we’ve covered numerous benefits of walking:

10,000 steps began as an arbitrary number. It was originally created as a promotion by a Japanese pedometer company. Since then, studies have confirmed that 10,000 appears to be the sweet spot where people lose weight and gain control of their health & wellness.

See how you stack up:

  1. Under 5,000 steps per day is considered “sedentary”. This is where health risks begin.
  2. 5,000 to 7,499 is “low active”. This is the category most people fall into. But you don’t want to stay here.
  3. 7,500 to 9,999 is categorized as “somewhat active”.
  4. Log 10,000 to 12,499 steps per day and you are considered to be “active”. With consistency, this is a great place to be.
  5. And over 12,500 puts you in the “highly active” category.

Congratulations if you fall into one of the last two categories.

So what if your activity level has you categorized as sedentary or low active? Should you be concerned and what does this mean?

SedentaryWell the answer to the first part of the question is yes, you should be concerned if you’re sedentary.

You think, “OK, I’m concerned. So what does this mean for me?”

First off, it may indicate that you’re not getting enough exercise. Walking is important to your health & wellness, but it’s not the only thing you need to do.

In addition to walking, you need to include a few strength training and a couple of cardio sessions every week.

This all contributes to your 10K a day, but walking by itself is probably not enough. Your body benefits from strength training in so many ways.

I’m not suggesting that you enter a power-lifting competition like my son-in-law Chris. For us middle-aged and older folks, this includes lighter weights, bodyweight exercises, and machines.

In addition to the benefits of strength training, the sustained intensity from aerobic exercise (aka cardio) is beneficial to your heart, lungs, brain, circulatory, and respiratory systems.

Cardio will also improve your stamina and endurance during strength training sessions, and vice versa.

Many studies have been done to evaluate the consequences of being sedentary. Problems include an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and some cancers.

Sedentary

Here are 2 good articles worth reading:

If you are sedentary, let this be the catalyst to help you start moving. And make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new activity, nutrition or exercise program.

Remember, the consistency of slow and steady for long-term results always trumps quick fix!

If you’re new to us, you can link back to the first post of our 6-month series here. And don’t worry about the time of year. We started in January because that’s when most people think about their health & wellness goals. But you can start anytime.

Like TODAY!!!

Sedentary

Same goes if you started but have fallen off-track. Go back to the first post of the series to re-calibrate and get yourself back on-track.

It’s a simple concept: One new habit per month, reinforced weekly to help you build the discipline. And since there are only a half dozen habits to build, it’s easy to manage, once you get into the groove.

But as Jim Rohn used to say, “What’s easy to do is easy not to do”.

6 months to build 6 healthy habits and disciplines that you can sustain for a lifetime.

Here’s how. By…

  • taking action, one habit at a time.
  • consciously (and consistently) making good choices.
  • knowing what to do and learning from your missteps along the way.
  • allowing your new habits to become part of your long-term plan and healthy lifestyle.

It’s up to you how long it takes to reach your goal. And then you have a lifetime to enjoy your new healthy lifestyle. How cool is that?

One last thing before we go.

I have a few words of caution about walking as we wrap up.

  1. First for the ladies: Never walk alone. Especially in the dark or in desolate places.
  2. And for all of us: Always be alert and walk against traffic if you’re forced to walk in the street. Distracted driving is a big problem.
  3. Safety should always be your main goal.

Next week we’ll introduce the 6th and final healthy habit of our 6-month series. In the meantime, don’t forget to Walk This Way!

Sedentary

Or get moving to one of your favorite walking (or running) songs…

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Welcome To The Machine

Hey 10K! Are you hitting it every day?

Cardio machineIf you need some help, you’re going to like this post.

So how can you increase your daily step count?

I have a few ideas to share that work for me, and I’m hoping they’ll work for you!

Full disclosure: I am not the type of person who likes to spend hours in the gym. I don’t have the time or desire. My average workout time is 45 minutes, which works for me.

I enjoy walking outdoors, so I supplement my workouts with it. Walking improves my thinking, problem-solving abilities, and creativity. And it’s relaxing despite doing it with intensity.

But I’m always looking for ways to log more steps.

And although running is great for so many reasons, it’s not really an option for me anymore. The lingering foot or knee pain I experience from the impact is something I now try to avoid.

But I have found other ways to increase my step count while keeping my heart rate elevated.

Cardio machineWelcome to the machine… Well, I should clarify… Low-impact cardio machines.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  1. Ellipticals: My favorite cardio machine is the Octane Elliptical. After using it for a while, and experimenting with different modes and levels of resistance, you can get close to a “running experience” without any impact on your knees, ankles, feet… And you’ll rack up a lot of steps during an intense 35-minute session.
  2. Bikes: It’s not my “go to” cardio machine, but it’s a good leg workout that will maximize your step count. For a super-intense session, hop on a “spin bike”. Remember your headphones and some loud, ass-kicking music for support and motivation. If you can ride outside, I’m sure my cyclist friends will agree that riding outdoors is more fun and exciting.
  3. Steppers: These cardio machines won’t give you the same high ratio of step count per hour as an elliptical or a bike will, but it’s an intense leg workout that gets (and keeps) your heart rate up.
  4. Treadmills: Aside from the obvious walking (or running), treadmills enable you to control speed or elevation to intensify your workout. I’d much rather walk outdoors at a fast pace than on a treadmill. But a treadmill is a good alternative when you need it.
  5. Jump rope: Surprisingly, I don’t experience pain from jumping rope like I do from running. So I jump rope frequently. If you haven’t jumped rope in a while, you may find that your endurance is low at first. Stick with it and increase the duration every time you jump. And before long, 15 to 30 minutes will be no problem.
  6. Walk the Mall: If the weather is bad or you want a change of scenery, walk the mall. You can window shop. But don’t stop when you see something you like. Instead, wait until you’re done with your walk. And use the stairs for added resistance and intensity.

My goal was to help you find different ways to maximize your step count, by pairing it with some of your cardio training sessions for efficiency. To make it a little easier to get to 10K a day.

Cardio machine

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

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There’s An App For That…

You’ve heard it a million times… “There’s an app for that”. Well stay with me, because it applies directly to this week’s theme.

So 10K a day is your new mantra.

And you’re R’acking up the steps. Congratulations!

But how are you T’racking your results and progress?

You know the saying, so say it along with me.

There’s an app for that…

As we discussed last week, there are plenty of apps for iPhone and Android to track your steps. And if you’re an iPhone user, the built-in Health app is incredible for tracking your step count.

But it doesn’t only track your daily step count (automatically), it retains all of your recorded data from Day 1.

Track

For example, in the fitness category, you can also track your active energy (calorie burn), minutes exercised per day, number of workouts, and a few other key metrics.

Aside from the step data, the data for the other fitness categories needs to be entered manually. This info is “tracked” and displayed on a dashboard. And represented visually in graph format based on the time frame of your choice – by Day, Week, Month, or Year.

In addition to tracking your steps, you may find a few other apps useful during your walks.

Here are four of my favorites:

  1. Audible: It’ impossible to read when you’re walking briskly, working out intensely, or driving. I use those times to listen to audio books. For about $15 a month you can get an Audible subscription and continue feeding your mind. If you like reading, it’s a way to maximize your reading time. If you don’t like to read, give it a try. You may take a liking to listening to audio books.
  2. Podcasts: Another great source for learning while you’re on the go. And it’s free. You can follow your favorite thought leaders and listen to their content based on your
  3. Music: Sometimes you just want to listen to music or need some motivation to put a little spring in your step.
  4. Your calendar: I do some of my best thinking during a walk. And I want to capture those thoughts. So instead of slowing down to type, I dictate my thoughts into a new calendar event, which allows me to remember the idea when I’m done or at a later time.

And of course, there are other ways to track your step count in addition to using your smartphone. From high-tech pedometers, fitness bands and smartwatches.

Perhaps this will help to put tracking in perspective for you:

“What gets measured gets managed.” ~ Peter Drucker

Or put another way, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”.

TrackThe most important point here is to get moving.

Then, “measure” your activity and “track it” with an app or a device.

On another note,

I recently improved my work habits by going to a standing desk, which I love. And there’s huge a side benefit.

Although it doesn’t count for steps, this one move can improve my cardiovascular health by helping me stay “less” sedentary.

Recent research claims that even if you exercise regularly, sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy for a number of reasons.

Here are a few articles on the subject:

“Don’t be a ‘sitting duck for cardiovascular disease’ — move more, sit less,” ~ Dr. Barbara George, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

If you want to get a handle on how much time your daily sitting is adding up to, check out this sitting calculator. And pay close attention to the notes, which I’ve included in the image below.

Track

‘Nuf said. Now it’s time to go get some more steps…

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Can You Give Me 10,000?

I need your help please. Can you give me 10,000?

I’m not asking you to write a check. But I won’t stop you if you feel so inclined…

It’s Month #5 and we’re launching our next habit – walking.

10,000 steps

Walking has been proven to be a healthy habit. Something we need to be doing all the time. Our bodies are powerful and resilient. And we’ve got to keep moving to remain healthy, vibrant and strong.

Walking is low impact. But it’s great exercise in so many ways.

For example:

  1. At a brisk pace, walking strengthens your legs and core.
  2. It gets your heart rate up. So it aids in circulation and breathing.
  3. And helps to clear your head. Personally, I do some of my best thinking and problem-solving when I’m on a walk (next best place is the shower).
  4. And if it’s sunny, you get to boost your Vitamin D production. Just remember the sunscreen.

Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends 10,000 steps per day (aka “10K a day”). And he’s not the only one.

10,000 steps

By the way, logging 10,000 steps is no small feat. You’ve got to be deliberate and make time for it. Otherwise you will struggle to get anywhere close to hitting that goal every day.

Let’s clarify a few things.

I’ve created this brief Q&A to help you get started with your new walking habit.

(Q1).   What counts as a step?

(A1).   Everything. But as with most things, quality matters. The faster or brisker your pace, the better. We are all at different fitness levels. And you will know when the steps you’re taking are meaningful, and when they’re not. Regardless, find a way to get to at least 10K a day!

(Q2).   How do I track my daily step count?

(A2).    The easiest way is with your smartphone. Or you can use a pedometer, fitness band / activity tracker, or smartwatch.

(Q3).   How do I track my progress?

(A3).    Your smartphone. As an iPhone user, I use the built-in Apple Health app. It automatically tracks your step activity, as long as your phone is with you when you’re moving. It also displays your “daily average” steps on a dashboard. Plus, a whole lot more health-related data. There are plenty of health-related apps on the Android. I’m just not aware of an all-inclusive one like the iPhone offers at this time.

(Q4).   Why 10,000 steps?

(A4).    Well first off, 10,000 steps equates to approximately 5 miles. Based on my research, I discovered that 10,000 began as an arbitrary number. It was originally created as a promotion by a Japanese pedometer company. But since that time, studies have confirmed that 10,000 appears to be the sweet spot where people lose weight and gain control of their health & wellness.

This article is packed with useful information about activity, ways to increase your step count, and top picks for pedometers, fitness bands, and smartwatches.

Will you commit to 10K a day?

10,000 steps

I hope so.

Just don’t do what I did last May, and you’ll avoid making a similar bonehead mistake. Click here to learn what ‘not’ to do.

This one incident set me back a few months, while the pain lingered for at least 6. But it’s a valuable lesson and I am happy to pass it on. So remember to leave the light on.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

You Are Here

Where do you appear on the “You Are Here” map in your life?

Influence

I know, this is an ambiguous question. You could be thinking about your career, relationships, or financial situation.

You may not be considering your health & wellness in this context, though. But I am, so let me be more specific

I’d like to explore your “unknown” future together. So YOU can see what YOU have to look forward to.

And know where the current path is leading you?

…based on the choices you’re making, the habits you’re building, and the disciplines you’re developing?

I know what you’re thinking… “You can’t predict the future”. And in some ways, I would have to agree with you. You’re right!

But here’s where I have to respectfully disagree with that thinking. You may not be able to predict the future, but you certainly have the control to influence your future.

But here’s the question. Are you going to influence your future in a good or a bad way?

There’s that “compound effect” phenomenon again. Thanks Darren!

It’s like the Energizer Bunny. Always working, whether you realize it or not. And “still going”.

Hopefully, today’s choices are setting you up for an active lifestyle, with great health and happiness, well into the future.

Otherwise, you could be startled to find yourself facing the Grim Reaper around some dark corner when you least expect it.

And you know what he’s known for.

Right! Death, destruction, and ultimate sadness.

Influence

So I have to ask, what’s around the corner for you in the next year?

Is that number on the scale (looking back at you) where you want it to be? And is it representative of your current choices?

What about your overall health, including how you look and feel?

Good or bad, can you see how the choices you’ve made over the past year are compounding for or against you?

How about looking down the road, like at the next 5, 10, or 20 years?

Want to look out even further? I do!

The long-term effect of consistently making bad choices is where the Grim Reaper begins to rear its ugly head. These unhealthy habits eventually morph into some nasty diseases and conditions like:

  • A heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity due to consistent weight gain
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Depression
  • And early preventable death

Bad stuff we each have control over delaying, preventing, or avoiding. So don’t wait until it’s too late!

NOW is the time to influence your future.

Just like saving, investing, and contributing to our retirement accounts when we’re younger will ensure an enjoyable and gratifying retirement. You are saving for your retirement, right?

That’s a different topic, but the same is true about our future health and well-being. We need to make deposits into our “health” account now, if we expect to influence our longevity in a positive way.

None of us are getting any younger. And just like retirement savings, healthy aging doesn’t happen by accident! I don’t care how good your genes are.

We are 3 months into our 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality program. I hope you are learning and benefiting from this valuable content. It’s based on a few proven and sustainable habits that can be easily incorporated into your busy life.

In fact, I’d like to give a shout out to my pilot group. I’m running a small 6 Pillars “pilot” program with about 20 students that includes private group coaching.

Influence

And I’m happy to report that everyone is benefiting. Although each person has different goals, we are seeing fantastic results as new healthy habits are being built and maintained!

Kudos and congratulations to each of you! Keep working hard.

Your consistent efforts will continue to pay off and compound into massive results that will last a lifetime!

If you need to catch up, you can link back to the first 3 Pillars here:

Next week we will launch into our 4th Pillar. And this habit is at the top of my Health Triad, which is fully integrated with nutrition.

I hope you are as eager and hungry to dig into this one as I am!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

What Motivates You To Exercise?

So what motivates you to exercise? We’ll unpack this further today.

motivation

Learning about it is important. But taking action is paramount!

As we wrap up Habit # 2 (and reach the milestone of our 100th post), I want to make sure that you understand the value of exercise.

And break your sedentary lifestyle, if that describes you. Or help you maintain this essential habit if it’s something you’re already doing.

But let’s first address a common problem that everyone faces from time to time. We can assign several labels to it. And whether you’re a fitness veteran, or a beginner, we can all relate.

What’s the problem?

You can say it has something to do with accountability, commitment, and responsibility. And they affect us differently. So let’s take a closer look at 3 variations.

  1. Motivation. You know this feeling if you’re a fitness veteran. When you just don’t feel like going to the gym. And you look for reasons to justify why you shouldn’t, or don’t need to… ‘today’.
  2. Getting started. If exercise is new to you, then you simply need to show up and start moving. You may not want to go, but haven’t earned the right to call this a motivation issue yet.
  3. Getting re-started. And if you’ve ever taken any time off from your exercise routine and tried to get back to it, then you can understand and appreciate this issue. It’s kind of a combination of the first two.

All 3 of these relate to breaking a commitment that we’ve made to ourselves. Dodging responsibility.

Has this ever turned into a negotiation for you?

Inside your head, between you and you?

I have to admit. Been there, done that.

Actually, I’m not sure that you can even call it a negotiation since you’re working both sides of the argument.

And here’s the worst part – you can’t win. So stop the madness.

motivation

If you Google “motivation”, you’ll soon discover that it can be quite a complex topic. Involving behavior, and the psychology of what’s behind our actions that result in the decisions we make.

I’m going to attempt to keep it simple here. I think we’ve all heard of the carrot and stick. How about the desire to gain pleasure vs. the need to avoid pain? Same concept. Or how about intrinsic (internal) motivation vs. extrinsic (external) motivation?

In some situations, you may find that you’re more intrinsically motivated. For example, you’ve signed up for a course because you believe it will help you advance your career. You’re internally driven to complete the course because of the future potential it holds.

How about entering a competition where your results will be compared with other participants? Or the potential of a reward for achieving a sales goal (monetary, recognition, etc.). And you discover that in this situation, your drive is more extrinsically focused.

Whether you’re internally or externally motivated for a given task doesn’t matter as much as it does to recognize it. And more importantly, knowing why you’re doing this and what it will mean to you to accomplish it.

Your “why-power” is powerful, and necessary if you want to make it past the finish line.

Your WHY is vitally important for:

  • staying focused on the long-term picture.
  • keeping you accountable when your motivation wanes.
  • helping you stay on-track when setbacks take you off-track.
  • overcoming obstacles that cause you to want to throw in the towel.

We all face challenges, and no one is perfect. As we gain a better understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses, or disciplines and temptations, we can prepare ourselves to handle things that are thrown our way. Including those that can trip us up.

If you are currently exercising, accountability and motivation challenges can rear their ugly head from time to time. And they can be caused by anything.

For example, you may get derailed:

  • during a plateau, when results appear to be non-existent.
  • when long hours at work consume most of your waking hours.
  • if you’re stressed from life’s demands and it starts taking a toll on you.
  • after an injury, sickness, vacation, or extended time off from your normal routine.
  • when your workout gets boring, or no longer challenges you the same as it once did.
  • if chronic pain flares up.
  • [Insert your reason.]

If exercise is new to you, or it’s been years since you’ve worked out, getting started may represent your biggest challenge. But you may also have to deal with:

  • a weak, uninspiring goal.
  • laziness from being sedentary.
  • uncertainty about what to do (or how to get started).
  • insecurity, fear of the unknown, or a lack of confidence.
  • lack of interest, indicating the need for a stronger WHY.
  • initial soreness and muscle fatigue that keeps you sidelined.
  • expecting too much, too soon.
  • [Insert your reason.]

Realize that these are all normal occurrences. They happen to everyone. It’s part of being human.

But it’s also exciting and motivating to overcome these challenges when you’re faced with them. So it’s best to be aware, and prepare.

Here are some suggestions. You can hire a personal trainer for a few sessions, recruit an exercise buddy, mix up your routine a bit, or set shorter term mini goals to recognize incremental results along the way.

Or try exercising at a different time, like in the evening if morning is your normal routine. You may find that you enjoy the time change occasionally, and may even get a different result.

Here’s where a strong “why” comes to your aid. Forget about willpower. To overcome inactivity, you need strong reasons why you want to (and should)exercise. Along with what it will mean to you when you do.

And when you need a little extra motivation, take a page out of Nike’s playbook and “Just Do It!”.

Or, just stay home. Yes, that’s right. Take the day off.

Once in a while is okay. This could be your body giving you a signal that it needs a break. Only you can judge this. Just don’t let it become a habit.

Ok, let’s put exercise motivation aside for a minute, and look at this from a different perspective.

motivation

If you choose to not exercise, or haven’t exercised in years for whatever reason, we need to talk. I’m not here to pick on you. And I am certainly not here to judge. But I am here to help you recognize the necessity and the value of exercise.

And find a way to get you to take action.

While there is no guarantee that exercise helps you live a longer more active and enjoyable life, there is plenty of evidence and medical data which shows that it does.

In fact, exercise has been proven to provide numerous health benefits. We discussed some of them 2 weeks ago. You can link back here.

But in this post, I am not going to focus on the benefits again. I’d prefer to look at it from the ‘other side’ to see if I can entice you to reconsider exercise.

There’s plenty of proof that’s been gathered from people who avoid exercise and make bad food choices. After years of abuse and neglect, you’ll find many of them in hospitals and cemeteries.

By NOT exercising, you run the risk of:

  • Gaining weight (and getting fat).
  • Becoming depressed and unhappy.
  • Having a stroke or heart attack.
  • Developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Falling and breaking something.
  • Dying earlier than necessary.
  • ‘nuf said?

motivationThis is not a scare tactic. But feel free to use it as one if it gets you to start moving.

We have one body and one life.

It’s a gift that we should cherish, take seriously, and take care of.

Any questions?

Next week we’ll tone it down a little as we launch our 3rd Pillar. If you’re working hard and you’re feeling the burn, you’ll appreciate next month’s habit.

In the meantime, get some exercise and keep drinking plenty of water.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Is Cardio Exercise Right For You?

Cardio exercise anyone?

Hopefully you have some muscle soreness that hurts SO good from last week’s strength training sessions. And since we’ve recently launched our second pillar for better health & vitality by adding the healthy habit of exercise to our routine, get used to the feeling.

If it’s new to you and you’re not sure, give it time. This feeling of muscle soreness will become something you’ll look forward to and appreciate in the future.

It’s Month 2, Week 2 of our 6 Pillars program. You’re drinking a lot of water and racking up extra steps from additional trips to the bathroom. And yet you’re still coming back for more.

I commend you on your interest and determination!

You can work through the soreness with another strength training session, which will help to kill the pain, while you integrate some cardio exercise into your next workout.

Cardio exercise anyone?That’s right!

It’s no surprise that cardio is our second type of exercise.

So let’s start by getting clear about what cardio “is”.

Cardiovascular exercise (aka cardio or aerobic exercise) is any exercise that gets your heart rate up, and keeps it elevated for a significant amount of time. Cardio improves fitness by increasing your oxygen intake and heart rate. Cardio exercise promotes increased use of oxygen in order to improve the overall body condition.

According to Wikipedia, aerobic exercise is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.

Aerobic literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen” and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper was the first person to introduce the concept of aerobic exercise. In the 1960s, Cooper started research into preventive medicine. He became intrigued by the belief that exercise can preserve one’s health.

Cooper is credited with conducting the first extensive research study on aerobic exercise in the 1960s on over 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel. In 1970 he created his own institute (the Cooper Institute) for non-profit research and education devoted to preventive medicine. He sparked millions into becoming active and is now known as the “father of aerobics”.

What is considered cardio exercise?

  • Running and walking (briskly) – outside or on a treadmill or elliptical
  • Cycling – outside or on stationary or spin bikes
  • Stair-climbing / stepping – stadium stairs or the newer stair-climbing machines
  • Swimming – known as one of the best exercises you can do
  • Kickboxing, jumping rope, and hitting a heavy bag
  • Dance, including Zumba
  • Games like basketball, soccer, tennis, and the lower intense game of table tennis
  • Hiking and mountain biking

What doesn’t count? I strongly suggest that you avoid the exercise gimmicks that are sold on TV. You know the ones that have great looking fitness models who claim that using this supposed “gadget” is how they got into such great shape, in only 5 minutes a day.

Does anyone believe this?

It’s important to get the heart pumping, the blood flowing, the lungs breathing, and the sweat dripping. I can’t admit to loving my intense cardio sessions while I am at the beginning or even halfway through. But when it’s over I feel great. And it’s that combined feeling of euphoria with a sense of accomplishment and the long-term results that keep me coming back for more.

Cardio exercise anyone?

I firmly believe that intensity matters with exercise. Once your doctor approves you for exercise and you’ve spent a few months building up your strength and endurance, it’s time to add intensity to your strength training and cardio exercise sessions.

As your intensity level increases, the length of time you need to spend exercising can be reduced.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a popular form of cardio training in recent years. HIIT involves alternating intensity levels during aerobic exercise.

For example, during HIIT, you increase the resistance or your speed for 2 minutes, which increases your intensity and heart rate.

Then you reduce it to a more moderate intensity with less resistance or speed for 1 minute, which helps you recover and slightly reduces your heart rate.

You can do this manually, or by selecting the “interval” option on many of the new cardio exercise machines.

I’d rather spend 30 to 40 minutes at a ‘moderate to high intensity’ level than 60 or more minutes at a lower one. Wouldn’t you?

I personally strive for 2 serious cardio sessions every week, plus 2 to 3 strength. It used to be 3 to 4 cardio sessions and 1 to 2 strength, but I was burning too many calories, which was causing me to lose lean muscle. But losing muscle is not the goal, so I changed the ratio.

I also incorporate cardio exercise into my strength training sessions. I do this with a heart-pounding 10 to 15-minute warm-up before lifting. Or 5 to 15 minutes of rope. And sometimes I’ll squeeze in a few sets of hitting the heavy bag, which elevates the heart rate.

And by incorporating “super-sets” when I lift, I’m automatically including cardio into my strength training sessions.

Super-sets are a way to maximize your time by performing 2 or more different exercises of different muscle groups with very little to no rest in between.

For example, one super-set could consist of a set of bench presses, bar curls, dumbbell fly’s, and reverse curls without resting between each exercise. You rest when you’re done with those 4 different exercises. Then you do it again for a couple more sets.

The alternative would be one set of bench presses and rest. A second set of bench presses and rest. A third set of bench presses and rest. Next, a set of bar curls and rest…

You get the point. A lot of resting and wasted time when you could be doing something else.

Although we introduced strength training last week, the point here is to illustrate how super-setting can add a cardio component to your strength training sessions by keeping your heart rate up. In my book, that’s another form of intensity that makes a difference!

Zumba has become a popular cardio routine for the ladies. I can’t personally comment on the benefits of Zumba because I have never participated in a class. But from what I’ve seen, I’m not convinced that you’re going to burn a lot of calories.

However, if it’s fun and gets you moving, then it’s a good thing to include in your workouts. As long as it’s not the only thing you do. Add a couple strength training sessions and other forms of cardio to the mix and you’ll be happy with the long-term results.

Spin on the other hand, will burn a lot of calories. When you adjust the resistance and change your speed, and go at it with intensity, you’ll have an invigorating, heart-pumping session that leaves you drenched and satisfied. It’s a great leg workout too.

My go to cardio workout is the Octane elliptical. The “interval” option mixes 2 minutes of higher resistance which kicks up the intensity, with 2 minutes of lower resistance.

This is a form of HIIT mentioned earlier. The reduced resistance gives you time to catch your breath and bring your heart rate down a couple ticks before it’s time to kick it up again.

It’s a great workout that burns a lot of calories in a 35-minute session when you really go for it.

Cardio exercise anyone?

I’d like to re-emphasize a point I made last week.

You should seriously consider hiring a personal trainer. Especially if exercise is new to you. Or of you’re out of shape and it’s been a while since you’ve exercised. Even if it’s only for a few sessions.

Or at a minimum, ask the gym staff for assistance and recommendations. These men and women are trained professionals who can help you identify the right exercises based on your fitness level and goals.

You’ll learn how to use machines that may seem foreign or complex, and how to perform new exercises while executing proper form.

I found this fact interesting and wanted to share: 1kg of muscle burns 50 extra calories a day, whereas 1kg of fat burns just 3 calories a day. More proof that lean muscle is your friend.

Let me see if I can help you understand the value of cardio by ending this post with a list of (some of) the benefits.

Cardio exercise:

  • Increases energy
  • Strengthens your heart
  • Improves lung capacity and strengthens your lungs
  • Boosts metabolism, burns calories, and helps you lose weight
  • Helps reduce stress
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Reduces LDL bad cholesterol, and boosts HDL good cholesterol

If you haven’t started your exercise program, you need to, while you continue to reinforce your water habit. Remember, we’re deliberately building one habit at a time. There are only 6, and we’re on number 2. Find a way to weave these into your day. It’s up to you to make it happen!

Congratulations to Scott Compher! Scott is a member of our 6 Pillars “pilot” program who lost 10 pounds during our first month.

Evidence that small changes can make a BIG difference if you do the work. If you stay committed and focused on your goal by building these 6 habits, your results will show up too…

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Exercise For Longevity

Welcome to Pillar 2! This week we introduce the second healthy habit of our program – exercise. If you participated in Habit 1, I’d like to congratulate you for completing this first vital habit.

Habits help you exercise for longevity

In case you’re just joining us, we are launching 6 healthy habits to help you get into the best shape of your life. One new habit every month, from January to June.

You can link back to the first habit here.

But you may be wondering…

“One habit per month? Why are we taking it so slow?”

Here’s why

Habits can be difficult to develop, especially when life gets in the way. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to succeed. By giving you the gift of focus and time to reinforce each new habit.

For month 2 we will add exercise to your routine. It’s an essential part of your healthy lifestyle.

In addition to making you look and feel great, you will become stronger and leaner when you exercise for longevity.

I’d also like you to consider the additional benefits. Exercise will

  • burn fat and build muscle.
  • reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • improve your heart and cardiovascular functions.
  • increase blood flow to your brain and improve cognition.
  • prevent heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • strengthen bones and improve balance as you age.
  • prevent or reverse nasty diseases like type 2 diabetes.
  • improve your focus, creativity, and productivity.
  • get you into fantastic shape, if done right.
  • help you lose or maintain weight.
  • reduce anxiety and depression.

And the benefits of exercise don’t stop here.

The two primary forms of exercise that we will cover include strength and cardio training. This week’s focus will be on the strength part. Strength-training (aka resistance training or weight lifting) becomes even more important as we age.

It’s been proven that our muscles, bones, circulatory and respiratory systems all benefit from strength-training. But despite this fact, not enough people include it in their weekly exercise routine.

Reasons vary but include limited knowledge of what to do, a lack of discipline, and a concern about becoming too bulked up with big muscles. Like this guy…

Why does Arnold exercise for longevity

Ok, so I have to ask. Was this your first thought when I mentioned strength-training? Were you afraid you would bulk up like Arnold?

Be honest…

Take a deep breath. Relax. And don’t worry. You will never look like this. Even if you spent 3 hours a day in the gym, 6 days a week.

So let’s eliminate that concern right up front. Unless it’s your goal and you consume large amounts of performance enhancing drugs.

Otherwise, you don’t have to worry. Go train hard with confidence.

If you’re new to exercise, body weight exercises like the ones covered in the Accelerate Your Weight-Loss post can become your initial workout for the first month or two as you acclimate your body to exercise, based on your fitness level.

It’s best to take it slow in the beginning.

You will also need to change the order of these 6 exercises to suit your muscle groups better.

For example, start with push-ups. Then move to squats, mountain climbers, lunges, planks, and high knee pull-downs. And then go for at least 3 sets.

During the first month, you should not be concerned with intensity, or results. Instead, shift your focus to learning the exercises and practicing good form.

After you graduate to weights, you can perform one set of this “accelerate your weight-loss” routine as your pre-workout warmup.

Exercise for longevityAfter the first month or two, your strength-training routine will continue to target the major muscle groups including your legs, chest, back, shoulders, arms, and core.

I strongly suggest that you hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) at your local gym. Especially if strength-training is new to you.

CPT’s possess the skills to help people with different physical abilities and fitness levels by customizing the right exercises that enable you to achieve maximum results.

In addition, the one-on-one interaction ensures that you’re learning the proper technique and doing the exercises in good form. Even if it’s only for a few sessions.

Tom Venuto, former bodybuilder and best-selling author suggests using dumbbells when you’re just starting out. Dumbbells are easy to handle and you can use them in the gym or at home.

Dumbbells encourage equal development on each side of your body, and they’re safer. Especially if you’re training alone. I personally include them in my strength-training sessions.

Burn the fat feed the muscle teaches you to exercise for longevity

By the way, I highly recommend his book Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle if you want to get in shape, the natural way through exercise and good nutrition.

Not only is Tom an expert in his field, he offers great insight and devotes a section to specific exercises in his 28-day plan. You’ll learn about the 10 biggest weight training myths, and how weight training helps you get leaner.

So let’s recap.

  • This month’s healthy habit is exercise.
  • This week’s homework involves starting a strength-training plan.
  • If you are new to exercise, spend the first month or two getting your body acclimated by doing body-weight exercises. Click here for suggestions.
  • After your first month or two of body-weight exercises, it’s time to start strength-training with weights. Preferably with dumbbells, 2 to 3 days per week.
  • Refer to Tom Venuto’s 28-day plan (TNB-28) in Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle.
  • You should hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) to match your physical abilities and fitness level with the right exercises.
  • And there’s no need to be intimidated by big muscles or physically fit people. You have your own goals and abilities. Focus on what you want! And work towards achieving it.

Disclaimer: Whenever starting a new exercise plan or nutrition program, you should always consult a doctor.

And finally, here’s a brief list of resources to help you exercise for longevity:

In the meantime, keep reinforcing your water habit by drinking more water as you begin to exercise for longevity.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Stop Being So Sweet

I hope you’re still thirsty for more information, and water.

Still thirsty for more water

In this final segment of our first healthy habit, we’ll look at the impact that “sweetness” is having on your weight-loss initiative, and overall health & wellness.

From processed table sugar to artificial sweeteners.

stop being so sweet

The point is not to pick on anyone with a sweet tooth or sugar addiction. But last week’s concept of adding a little flavor to your water so you can drink more inspired this post.

I’d also like to look at the “sugar-free” craze that’s been promoted and popularized for too many years. And the side effects of relying on anything sugar-free as a crutch in your nutrition plan.

Sugar-free beverages and processed food crap is SABOTAGING your weight-loss efforts.

This has created a serious problem that’s not limited to the diet soft drink you have with lunch. But also includes those colorful little packets like Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, and Sweet ‘N Low (to name a few), that you add to other things you consume throughout the day.

But before we go any further, let’s start by understanding a little more about sugar, which is also referred to as “added” sugar.

The American Heart Association sets daily intake guidelines by the teaspoon and total calories.

They allow up to 6 teaspoons per day for women, or about 90 calories. And up to 9 teaspoons for men, or about 135 calories.

But you shouldn’t go for the max here. Less than the recommended amount or none is better. Here’s why

Say not to sugar

Consider this, a teaspoon or an equivalent sugar packet contains 4 grams and about 15 calories.

I know it doesn’t seem like much. But those 15 calories are truly “empty” calories with ZERO nutritional value.

And they add up quickly.

I want you to think about what this means when the nutrition label on that 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi you reach for indicates zero fat.

But if you read further, you’ll see 69 grams of sugar and 250 calories. This equates to 17 packets of sugar!

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes about 21 teaspoons per day from added sugars. Equivalent to about 330 calories.

That’s more than triple the recommended daily limit for women, and more than double the recommended for men.

And although naturally occurring sugars such as those found in fruit and some dairy products contribute to your overall sugar intake, according to dietary experts, they don’t qualify as “added” sugars.

But this doesn’t mean you should go overboard. A few servings every day is sufficient.

There are hidden dangers with added sugar. The most common is white table sugar. But added sugars also include, brown sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and dextrose.

The list goes on. And keep in mind that sugar is not only limited to desserts, candy or soda. It sneaks into some “not-so-obvious” places. Like cereals, salad dressings, so-called “healthy” sports bars and drinks, low-fat yogurt, and most cold cuts, just to name a few.

So it’s important to read your nutrition labels carefully. Or just stick to whole foods whenever possible.

Remember the vitaminwater example from last week? What you see is NOT always what you get. vitaminwater is marketed as healthy, but contains 8 packets of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle.

It’s supposed to be water! So why does it need 32 grams of sugar added to it?

I won’t even waste the time to find out if it contains any legitimate vitamins as the name claims. That’s doubtful and it doesn’t matter. You can’t even use in your car’s radiator or battery.

Okay, I’m done ranting for now.

Let’s move on to artificial sweeteners, also known as low-calorie sweeteners or sugar substitutes.

It’s obvious that artificial sweeteners are intended to add sweetness without the calories.

At first glance, these sugar substitutes appear to be a good thing. You’re not consuming all of that unhealthy sugar. And they’re supposed to help you lose weight by eliminating the extra calories.

Sounds harmless, right?

Well think again…

Although they provide taste to your food and beverages similar to table sugar, they are sometimes referred to as “intense” sweeteners because they are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter. And therein lies one of the problems.

Because artificial sweeteners are so “potent”, some studies have shown that you actually train your body to crave more sugar.

And with beverages like diet soda, you could be priming your brain to want to eat more because you’re not getting the same fullness of the sugar-sweetened version.

Fat cells act like sponges, looking to absorb more fat.

One study showed that diet soda drinkers had a 70% increase in waste circumference as compared to non-diet soda drinkers. Other studies have shown associations between artificially sweetened drinks and obesity.

Here’s a very common example: “I’ll have the bacon cheeseburger with fries please. Oh, and a large diet Coke, ‘cause I’m watching my calories.”

Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard someone else order this before?

So let’s cut to the chase.

Added sugar has NO nutritional value. Our bodies don’t need it.

There’s plenty of data, both in favor of, and against the use of artificial sweeteners.

Want my suggestion?

Make a commitment to STOP using sugar altogether, as soon as possible. Real or artificial, it’s not helping you.

I realize that it may not be easy to quit cold turkey. And that you’re going to have to sacrifice a little. But your health is well worth the sacrifice, and you’ll be much better off not being so sweet.

Here are a few articles that may help you kick the habit:

Next week we introduce our 2nd pillar. I’ll give you a sneak preview – it’s about exercise.

But don’t sweat it just yet. We’re going to start slow.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, talk to your doctor first. Then you will have the opportunity to ease into this 2nd essential habit. And if you’re currently exercising, there’s plenty here for you too.

In the meantime, keep reinforcing your water habit by drinking more water.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Start Now!

Are you making any changes or improvements in the new year?

Or planning to accomplish some new goals?

I hope so!

But here’s an unfortunate scenario that occurs way too often.

Especially this time of year.

Let me know if this sounds familiar.

“I’m going to start… __________” (fill in the blank)

  • … eating better
  • … exercising
  • … going to bed earlier
  • … taking better care of myself

Sounds nice, although these declarations are way too VAGUE. But I’m not going to start nitpicking (yet). So let’s continue.

When? __________” (fill in the blank)

  • next month…
  • after the holidays…
  • in the new year…
  • after I get back from vacation…

You realize these are all LAME excuses that ALWAYS equate to NEVER.

And how about this one.

I’m going to stop smoking…

  • (Insert the same lame excuses from above)

And guess what’s not going to happen?

Right! The thing you said you were going to do.

So stop kidding yourself, and lying to others.

You’re not committed or ready to make a change yet.

I get it, we’ve all been there at some point. And have seen others make these false promises.

Need proof?

Just look back over the past 2 or 3 years. What have your actions been saying? (FYI – you have to look closely ‘cause you can’t hear them. Especially with all of the social media noise and distractions.)

Have you ever accomplished any of your “informally-made” resolutions? Or goals that you weren’t fully committed to?

Probably not.

And it’s that time of year again where the biggest and boldest false promises are about to be launched. Some will be well-meaning but will lack clarity or commitment. Others will be audibly initiated drunk New Year’s resolutions that never see the light of day.

Shockingly (well, actually NOT), 92% of resolutions fail. WTH?

It’s pretty obvious why.

Don’t waste another year of your precious life by setting yourself up for failure with useless New Year’s resolutions. Or weak goals that you’re not committed to.

Give your actions a chance to speak by doing yourself a huge favor.

Get it right this time by setting a few legitimate and relevant goals. Things you want and need to accomplish during the next 12 months.

It’s best to keep it simple and only start with a few. Especially if this is new for you.

In fact, I’d suggest that you only set one goal. A challenging, yet attainable short-term goal. Then when you achieve it, you can reward yourself by setting another one.

Let’s break it down into a few steps to make it simple.

  1. The “What” – Okay, what do you want to accomplish? Make it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. With pen and paper; not in your head. For more on S-M-A-R-T goal setting, click here.
  2. The “Why” – This is where it gets exciting. Start listing all the reasons ‘why’ you want to accomplish this goal. The more reasons the better. Your WHY-power will kick in when your motivation fades (which it will), or when plateaus occur (which they will), and when your WILL-power is at its lowest point (which happens).
  3. The “How” – This is your plan for accomplishing your new goal. It includes the actions you will take as you chunk-down your goal into manageable steps. And don’t worry, you don’t have to figure it all out before you start. Just figure out the first couple of steps. Then you’ll adjust your plans along the way as you gain valuable insight from the obstacles and setbacks you begin to face. Otherwise, you could be doomed to the “paralysis by analysis” syndrome where nothing gets done.
  4. Take “Action” – Now do something by taking your first step in the direction of your goal. This is very important. Consider it your first ‘How’.
  5. Review your goal often. So it’s top of mind and to evaluate your progress. And as you’re reviewing, visualize the outcome as if you have already achieved it. This is very helpful and mysteriously powerful (but doesn’t work without taking action).
  6. You’re on your way to achieving this goal. When you do, set another one.

For example, if one of your goals is to improve your cardiovascular health so you’re able to live a longer and a more active & fulfilling life, here’s how you would start.

  • Identify “WHY” this is important to YOU. And what it would mean if you didn’t accomplish it. Sometimes it’s the consequences that motivate us more than the prize itself. So use whatever works best for you in the situation at hand.
  • Plan the 3 to 5 days of the week you will exercise based on your fitness level. Remember, for something like this, slow and steady always trumps an overly-aggressive plan that’s unsustainable.
  • Include the days you will focus on strength or cardio training (and what each workout will consist of).
  • Put those days in your calendar. You are committed, right? Would you miss this Wednesday’s client presentation, or meeting with your boss? Then put your mask on first by showing up for your appointment with yourself, and stop saying you’re too busy.
  • And since cardiovascular health is also influenced by our nutrition, you should identify the foods you will STOP eating, and the healthier ones you will START eating.
  • Then plan the next few meals and shop for the ingredients.

Now it’s time to do something by completing your first workout and making your first meal.

Pretty simple, right?

Enjoy the process and appreciate the obstacles and struggles you will face along the way.

What???

Yep… There will be challenges and setbacks, but they’ll make it all worthwhile and allow you to accomplish bigger things in the future.

I hope you found value in this post.

As 2016 comes to a close, I would like to say thank you and wish you a HEALTHY, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Be on the lookout for The 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality. We start up next week and run through the end of June. You’re not gonna want to miss it. So subscribe for automatic updates.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I’d love for you to let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Is the content valuable and helpful? Did anything resonate? Will you take action? What else would you like to see in future posts? I welcome your feedback.

What’s your Win to be Thin?

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