Fitness & Wellness

Great Book Ideas For Snow Days

Great Book Ideas For Snow Days

Don’t let the weather get you down. Take some time to relax and expand your mind or enjoy the latest novel. Here are some great book ideas for snow days that will provide entertainment while the weather is foul and give you a boost to tackle the world again when the snow stops. I’ve created a list that include both fiction and non-fiction, since everyone has different taste. I’d love it if you’d share some of your favorites in the comment section, since I’d like to find a few new ones myself.

Novels can keep you enthralled and make the day fly by quickly.

You may not want to start War and Peace or another long novel, but there are many short novels that won’t take longer than a day. Downloading the books from Amazon is inexpensive and you’ll often find other choices that are intriguing while you’re there. Binary Star is an inside look at a battle with eating disorders, while on a long trip with a boyfriend. At 172 pages, it won’t take long to get to the end. A classic short book that you might have missed is The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Find novellas for quick reads you can finish in a day.

Novellas are short novels that are under 200 pages. They let you start the journey the author created and end it in record time. Some of my favorites include the most recognizable names that you may only have seen in movies. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is only 166 pages and you get to see what started the rash of movies through the decades. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is thrilling and just 55 pages and Silas Marner by George Elliot another classic that’s just 160 pages.

Plan a garden, learn healthier cooking or study rocks in your extra time.

While we often think of reading time as a time to read a story or novel, non-fiction writing can be as riveting if it’s about something you really love. If you’re a gardener, there’s nothing better than thinking of warm weather and the perfect garden on a snowy day. You can download these books or may have one or two already at the house you’d like to review. I love reading cookbooks, not necessarily cooking the items. Scouring a book on healthy recipes may inspire you to try a few. Whether you collect stamps, rocks or have another hobby, books about it will make great ready while the weather is cold.

  • Go to the classics that are short, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (64 pages), The Picture of Dorian Gray (180 pages) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (128 pages) are great short ones.
  • You’ve probably watched A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but have you read the book? It is just 80 pages and a super quick read. You can impress others when you watch the movie by saying it isn’t as good as the book.
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck is thought provoking and just 96 pages.
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron will make you laugh and also provide a few recipes. It’s both funny and poignant at the same time. (She’s the woman who created Sleepless in Seattle.)

Start With Small Goals

Start With Small Goals

One of the biggest problems in fitness training is discouragement. Even though people may be doing the right things to achieve their goals, they’ve made their goal way too big to achieve quickly and after a few months, find themselves discouraged and ready to quit. Rather than create a big goal that takes a long time to achieve, start with small goals so you can get success more quickly and build toward the bigger, ultimate goal.

Goal setting requires a specific goal with a specific time frame and a plan to achieve that goal.

You can still have the ultimate goal set, but you need to break it down into smaller bites. Use the SMART technique. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. Breaking that 50 pounds into 10 pound goals, and setting the time frame for a month creates a specific goal that’s relevant, measurable, attainable and has a time frame. It also creates a goal you can achieve before you become discouraged.

The goal should be exciting.

Setting a goal too short term, such as losing two pounds a week, simply isn’t as exciting as setting a goal for ten pounds a week. There’s also another reason for monthly goals over weekly goals. Sometimes the body plays tricks and seems to take on weight from nowhere. If you have a different type of fitness goal, such as one for strength, a weekly goal doesn’t allow for physical fluctuation of strength based on health and work load.

Smaller goals are stair steps to achieve the ultimate fitness goal.

You’re not going to run a marathon after working out for a month if your only previous marathon was marathon watching the first season of “Game of Thrones.” Neither will you lose fifty pounds in a month. That doesn’t mean you can’t set them as long term goals. Everyone needs an ultimate goal to strive toward with short term goals leading the way.

  • Don’t expect the first few weeks of working out will be smooth as silk. Everyone feels a little awkward and intimidated initially.
  • Once you achieve your fitness goals, you’ll start to realize you can do anything as long as you have a goal and a plan to achieve that goal.
  • You need to make sure you know your starting point, which is one reason trainers take so long finding your present fitness level. Even Mapquest won’t give you directions if you only input your ultimate destination but not your starting point.
  • Short term, smaller goals are important because they help people identify where they need to make changes in their plan to achieve them before too much time elapses.

Make A Commitment To Self-Love And Affirmation

Make A Commitment To Self-Love And Affirmation

There’s a lot of fat-shaming and most of it comes from those who gained weight and is about themselves. Hating how you look and thinking desparaging remarks about yourself isn’t the answer. In fact, in some cases, hating yourself only leads to further weight gain. You lower your self-esteem even further, making you feel like you don’t deserve any better. In order to really make progress when it comes to fitness, you need to make a commitment to self-love and affirmation.

Self-love does not mean you ignore a problem.

Self-love doesn’t mean you don’t have self-awareness and understand that excess pounds and lack of fitness can lead to some serious health issues. In fact, it actually drives you toward making the changes to reverse the trend and live a healthier lifestyle, because you deserve it. If you have a set back, you forgive yourself and get back on track. Self-hate does quite the opposite. If you don’t lose the weight you wanted to lose, you start that mental thrashing and then turn to what makes you feel better, which is often comfort food.

Self-hate destroys your self-image and makes you believe you don’t deserve anything.

I’ve seen people come in so down on themselves that they don’t even eat healthy, feeling they don’t deserve anything but junk food. Good healthy food should be reserved for someone with more restraint. You may have felt that way yourself. When you start working on liking yourself, you’ll find reasons that you should be healthy and do what it takes to become more fit. You’ll notice how much easier it is when you consider healthy food part of the way to take care of yourself and know you deserve that type of care.

Consider your weight loss a project and eliminate the emotion.

You are not your weight, so why do you allow it to control your emotions and feelings about yourself? Losing weight and getting fit is like painting a house that you love, which is well built and otherwise in good shape, but hasn’t had the walls cleaned or painted for a long, long time. You don’t hate the house, you love it and want it to look great again. You simply set a goal of first washing the walls and then room by room paint them. It will take a while but before you know it, the house will look like new again. Getting fit and losing weight should evoke the same emotion as painting that house. You still love yourself, but you want to look and feel better and weight loss can do it.

  • You’re more than just your body, you’re a unique individual with many different skills and positives. However, if your body isn’t healthy or you have no energy, you won’t be able to share those with the world.
  • When you set goals to lose weight, your focus shifts from your body to the actual goal. It eliminates much of the emotional charge that often comes with weight loss.
  • Start being happy now. Don’t ever say that you’ll be happy, motivated or more self-loving when you lose weight. If you’re unhappy, find the cause. In most cases, it’s not the weight, but something more. Once you solve that, you’ll find weight loss is easier.
  • Remember that weight loss and fitness is always about more than just looking good. It helps you stay healthier, have more energy and reduce the risk of serious illnesses or conditions.

Flirty Fitness Dates

Flirty Fitness Dates

Dating can be a challenge. There’s always that awkward silence over dinner in the early stages and that deep rut you’ve ingrained in your dating after doing the same thing repeatedly after months of dating. It’s time to start looking for alternatives that are fun and different from the norm. It would be a double bonus if they could make you healthier in the process. Here are some ideas for flirty fitness dates that will break the ice and make dating less awkward early in a relationship, while jazzing up a longer one.

Whether it’s a first date or a date night after years of marriage, a paint ball date is fun and active.

You won’t have to worry about what to say or feeling awkward and uncomfortable, you’ll be too busy dodging paintballs and running to do that. There’s bonding when you and your date are a team against another couple or stalking each other to see who’s the best if there’s only the two of you. This is the perfect activity for a first date that lets you get together without forced intimacy. It also breaks the monotony of a more seasoned relationship, even if it’s after 25 years of marriage. Make sure that the place you go rents equipment if you don’t own any.

Canoeing the rapids or paddling a two person kayak on serene waters.

Before you decide whether you want a more adventurous outing, such as tackling the rapids or one that’s more relaxing like canoeing or kayaking a placid lake. One will give you more of a chance to talk while the other will let you work more closely together to stay upright. Both require co-operation and communication and make you feel more at ease, focusing much of the attention on the kayaking.

Decide on a healthy meal and then go to the local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients.

Shopping together in an outdoor market provides a little exercise, but the biggest benefit is seeing all the great produce and fresh foods the market has to offer. It’s fun to find the fresh herbs and maybe sample the cheese from the local farm that raises grass fed cows or try an exotic fruit or vegetable you’ve never heard of previously. Eating healthy is part of fitness and this type of date could start a trend for your next meals.

  • Pack a picnic lunch and go for a hike. Enjoy Mother Nature and find a quiet spot along the way for a romantic picnic. Make something healthy and special for the hike.
  • Try indoor skydiving. It’s fun and will leave you feeling light as a feather, while still getting great exercise.
  • Try rock climbing. Start with a local climbing wall and learn the “ropes” so to speak.
  • Sign up for a boot camp and make this a continuous date night that leaves you fabulously fit.

Fitness For Kids

Fitness For Kids

Getting a good workout program and healthy eating not only promotes your good health, but can be a great way to promote fitness for kids. Children live what they see and if they see a parent that’s active and eats healthy, the chances are, they’ll grow up doing the same. You get a double benefit from a fitness program. It not only improves your health, it improves the health of your family, particularly if you use some of the new found energy to participate in active play with the children.

Start with a healthy menu.

You do the shopping, or a spouse does, not the kids. Create a united front with other adults in the house to insure the foods you bring in are healthy. Have healthy snacks ready and waiting in the refrigerator for those hungry times after school. Even though there’s been attention drawn to healthier school lunches, not all schools follow the guidelines. Make sure you check what’s on the menu and if it’s not a healthy choice, pack your child healthy lunches. If you’re eating healthy, there’s no reason to have junk food in the house. Healthy eating should be the norm.

Make sure each child has adequate exercise.

You can limit the amount of computer, iPad, TV or laptop time and increase the amount of activity they get in simple ways. Walk your child to school if at all possible, rather than drive them. You’ll both benefit from the extra exercise. Encourage activities like sports, hide and seek and tag. The whole family can go geocaching or rock climbing. You can also create a treasure hunt, with a hidden treasure that can be found after following clues. Hide the object in the house and let them find the treasure while you’re preparing dinner or doing other things.

Workout with the kids or find a local activity program.

If you have a community center or after school programs that offer sports and active games, you can use this resource. However, even if they have one, there may be problems with scheduling. If no programs are available, share your workout with the kids. Ask your personal trainer for modifications that younger children might require or ways to make it harder for children that are more fit.

– Dance away during commercials with the kids, or create a two minute workout. It can be a lot of fun and nobody will argue they want to watch the TV when it’s commercial time.

– Get children involved in meal preparation. There are cute ways to create fruit and vegetable creatures that kids will love to eat.

– Make your weekend adventures, true adventures. Go hiking, bike riding, roller blading, skiing or other active options and pack a healthy lunch for the trip.

– Get the kids involved in chores to get them finished faster, get them moving and teach a sense of responsibility. Chores can be one more way to increase physical activity.

Exercise Tips For Seniors

Exercise Tips For Seniors

The older you are, the more you need exercise. The body loses muscle mass faster the more you age. However, there are also some precautions you need to take, particularly if you have health issues. Here are some exercise tips for seniors that can help you get fitter faster and exercise in a safer manner. The first is more of a requirement, than a tip. Always check with your health care professional first and let your personal trainer know of any special needs. You may want to have your trainer discuss any serious conditions with your doctor or health care professional.

Include all types of exercise in your workout.

You have four different types of fitness; endurance, flexibility, strength and balance. As you age, you lose lean muscle mass. That reduces your strength. The aging process, particularly if you don’t exercise, takes its toll on your endurance and flexibility as well. Balance decreases and that can lead to falls with serious complications. To be your healthiest, you need to have a well rounded program that addresses all areas. A personal trainer can help you do this, but you also can do it on your own with a little research.

Walking, bike riding and swimming can build endurance.

You don’t have to have a sophisticated program to build endurance, walking every day can do the trick and be a gentle way to start your workout. Swimming is also good and doesn’t place undue pressure on joints. Strength training is important to help reduce not only muscle loss, but the bone loss of osteoporosis. It can improve balance in the process. Besides a program of strength training that can involve weights or resistance bands, seniors can use every day activities to build up their arm strength. Carry grocery bags, use soup cans as weights and do a set of curls or other strength building exercises when you think of it. Everything is a weight when you lift it…but make sure it’s not too heavy for you and you’re using proper form.

Take dance classes, yoga or do a stretching routine for flexibility.

Dancing can provide endurance training and some types of dancing add to flexibility fitness. Yoga is known for improving flexibility, just as stretching is. If you’re unable to go to a gym or other type of flexibility training, doing a routine of stretches at home can help. We have online training with routines to help you in every area so you can start working out at home.

– Enjoy your fitness program. It doesn’t have to be all sweating and grueling workouts. Getting exercise can be any activity that’s both fun and physical.

– Workout with others to get both social benefits and physical ones. Studies show that a healthy social life can improve your health. When you workout with others, you’re more apt to stick with the program.

– Combine a program of exercise with healthy eating to maximize the benefits.

– Go slowly. You can’t reverse years of inactivity all at once. Start your program slowly and increase little by little. You can break up your workout to several sessions, too. Instead of one long 40 minute workout, four short ten minute ones may be more reasonable, at least until you get fitter.

Best Tricep Tricks

Best Tricep Tricks

If you go online, you’ll find a lot of different recommendations for building big triceps quickly. Many of these can be quite dangerous and potentially cause injury. Here are some of the best tricep tricks I know that are far safer and will build your muscles fast. They don’t involve heavily weighted exercises, such as kickbacks, which potentially cause injury to the elbows or dips that may cause shoulder problems.

Develop all three areas.

It’s called a tricep for a reason. There are three different sections of the tricep, the lateral, long and medial. You need to make sure all three are exercised. The long is on the upper arm on the inside and one of the more difficult ones to develop. While raising your arm may seem like a simple task, the tricep, the muscle that does it is not. It has three separate heads, so you need to develp all three heads by doing a variety of different exercises. Use multiple methods for each head to get the full development.

Use resistance bands instead of dumbbells to help avoid injury.

The elbows are susceptible to injury when using weights to develop the triceps. You can do overhead extensions, but instead of dumbbells, use resistance bands and you’ll reduce the risk of elbow injury. Resistance bands provide the most resistance when your arms are straight above you and your triceps are their strongest. When the triceps are weakest, when the elbow is bent, the bands have the least amount of tension. You’ll get a workout with less potential of injury.

Warm up thoroughly.

Warming up the areas thoroughly is one of the keys to safely working out the triceps. If you think one set of warm up set will do, do a second to be on the safe side. Push downs with an angle bar or rope are a good warmup because you can lock your elbows and focus the warm up on the triceps to make it more limber.

– Vary your routine. Do more than one routine for triceps and alternate them. One should be a less strenuous session, while the other more difficult. Don’t just vary the weights or intensity, do different exercises entirely.

– Don’t overtrain. You’ll be working on your triceps when you’re working on other areas too. Make sure you include those exercises as part of your tricep training so you insure you give them time to rest and get bigger.

– Track your training to make sure you’re making progress.

– Always check your form. That’s one advantage of working with a personal trainer or having a workout partner.

Starting To Workout Again After Surgery

Starting To Workout Again After Surgery

If you’ve fallen off the workout wagon, getting started again can be scary, but it’s even worse if you’re starting to workout again after surgery. The type of surgery you had also makes a difference. The first thing you must do is make sure you have your health care professionals okay to begin working out. Even if you feel good, there are many factors to consider. Your doctor is your best source of information for when to begin your program of exercise.

You’ve got the okay, now what?

Muscles atrophy from lack of use. Smaller muscle groups may take as little as 72 hours to start the process. Larger ones take longer. You’ll probably have at least a little atrophy and the older you are, the more you can expect. When you do go back to the gym, it’s time to take it slowly. You might want to rush right back where you left off before the surgery, but your body probably won’t be ready.

Realize that you may need to make some adjustments in form.

Depending on the location or type of surgery, you may have to modify the form you use for each exercise. If there’s injury to one side of the body, such as a torn ligament in one arm or leg, cross education may help build that side while it heals. There is research showing that exercising the uninjured side can actually help build up the side that’s injured or at least slow atrophy.

Work with a personal trainer or physical therapist.

Physical therapists may be the first place to start, particularly if you’ve been in a cast or had surgery that impedes the workout a great deal. However, once they give the okay, the next step to getting back to prime is to work with a personal trainer. The trainer will work closely with our health care professional and create a program that will get you back on path, but at a pace that’s right for you.

– See if you can take walks to help stay in shape while you’re on the mend. It helps slow the muscle atrophy, but is a gentle exercise.

– Don’t ignore pain. Pain is our body’s way of messaging us that something is wrong. More than ever, after surgery you need to listen to the message.

– Make sure you eat healthy. You’ll need all the nutrients you can get to help put you on the road to recover, but don’t want to gain excess weight that will take a time to

lose once you’re back on your feet.

– Stay hydrated. Flushing the toxins out of your system and keeping your body hydrated is important. Make sure you drink plenty of water.

What's In Your Gym Bag?

What’s In Your Gym Bag?

Your gym bag should have all the necessities to make your transformation from John or Joan Average Citizen to powerhouse and back again. While some people have everything they need and seem to be pros carry just the right number of necessary items, others either forget things or have enough stuff in their gym bag to hold them over for several days. The first on the list should always be clean gym clothing and tennis shoes.

Don’t forget your toiletries.

If you’re working out after work and going directly home, hair product may not be on your list. However, deoderant should be, as well as other toiletries. A bottle of dry shampoo can help remove the greasy feeling sweating left in your hair. For women, light moisturizer with a little bit of coverage to take the red out of your face can help you feel more presentable after a workout, but without taking a lot of time. If you’re going to work, make sure you have the makeup you need for the office and both male and females need their hair care products. Don’t forget your comb or brush, you’d be surprised how many people do. Most people buy a special one for the bag.

Think about the workout and include items to help make it better.

If sweat poured in your eyes and your gym charges a towel rental fee, take your own. You’ll want to keep your hands dry so they aren’t slippery for performing some of the exercises. While a sweat band helps, it only goes so far and having your own towel not only assures you that it’s clean—or least only used by you—but also ensures you’ll have one when you need it. For women with longer hair, make sure a few hair ties are in your gym bag.

Bottled water or a refillable thermal bottle is important.

Staying hydrated is hard, but what’s even harder is drinking from public faucets when you’ve heard all those stories about e-coli and other bacteria thriving there. They don’t have to be true to make you appreciate having your own water in a reusable bottle that keeps it cold and refreshing for hours. If you’re an avid water drinker, carry one plastic bottle in and keep the thermal one in your gym bag for when you finish the first.

– Having a few healthy snacks to munch on after the workout will keep you from grabbing a high calorie snack with no nutritional value.

– Don’t forget the Rx. Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory, muscle balm and even an elastic bandage should be part of your gear.

– Bring a spare pair of socks. Feet sweat big time and you want a spare, particularly if you’re wearing your gym clothes home. Have an extra tank top or tee in your bag too.

– For women, particularly if you’re coming directly from work, have a face wipe to remove your makeup before a tough sweaty workout or you’ll be wearing your mascara on your cheeks.

How To Get Back On The Fitness Wagon

How To Get Back On The Fitness Wagon

Don’t let one slip or even several days or weeks of neglect stop you from looking and feeling your best. It’s time to get back on the fitness wagon. Even if you fell off the wagon, then sold it for money for Oreos, it’s never too late to start over and get back into the routine of working out. One thing about exercise, it’s not a task, like doing laundry, where if you let it go for a few days, you can catch up again in one night. It takes time to get back on track, so you may have to take it slowly at first.

Sure, you messed up, but don’t let that stop you.

When you were learning to walk, you fell, stumbled and didn’t do it well at all. You never let that stop you. Slipping up and falling off the wagon is part of learning a new lifestyle. Some people get it immediately and once they start, it’s part of their life forever. Most people start and stop several times until they find the right motivation or learn to make it a habit in their life.

Were you in front of an open refrigerator all night?

Healthy eating is one of the biggest problems people face. They often feel that if they cheat on their diet or healthy eating habits, it’s all over but the shouting. That’s not true. In fact, there are cheat days built into healthy eating. Sometimes, eating a bit of the food you’re craving helps you stick with a healthy eating plan. In fact, eating more than normal on occasion may even help you shed weight by letting your body feel as though food is plentiful. Chalk up that eating marathon to a bad day and get back on track.

Are you feeling too tired to go to the gym.

When you’re tired, what you may actually need is a little exercise to get your blood circulating. However, if you’ve been working out furiously and not taken any time away from the gym, you may have overworked your body. Examine your workout habits and see if you really need rest. That’s not falling off the wagon but giving your body time to mend. Your personal trainer can help you identify the problem.

– Decide to workout for just ten minutes. If your exercise program has been put to the side, use the ten minute theory. Put on some music, run in place, do a few squats. If you feel like doing more time, go ahead. Otherwise, try ten minutes a few more times throughout the day.

– Take it one day at a time. Rather than say you’re going to eat healthy from now on, say you’re going to eat healthy tonight…and do it. Little by little get back to old healthier eating habits.

– Work with a personal trainer. If your exercise wagon crashed and burned, a trainer can help you create a new one.

– Switch your routine around to have more fun. Add fun activities like bouldering, bike riding and even Kangoo jumps to the workout.