Thursday, May 12, 2011

Calisthenics Makes a Comeback! Is It Right For You?

Spring is here and the weather is beautiful! Weather like we've had recently can really motivate us to increase our physical activity. Now is the time we need to identify what is holding us back. Is it time, lack of knowledge, lack of resources and equipment? I know for many of my clients all three of these often come into play to some degree.
I recently read an article from the NY Times which reports a rise in popularity for calisthenics (Calisthenics Come Back as the Anywhere Workout by John Hanc ). Calisthenics are exercise movements using only one's own body weight for resistance. These exercises can be used for cardio, strength, and stretching and include movements such as jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, and crunches.

This article talks about the benefits of this type of exercise for "time-pressed business travelers," however I believe this is beneficial for everyone. As the article points out, it's great for people who are short on space and time. However, it should not replace your regular cardio routine and is more likely to maintain your existing muscle than help you gain it (unless, of course, you are currently not doing any strength training at all).

A calisthenics workout can take place in as little as 15 minutes, does not require equipment, and can leave you feeling alert and energized. If you have any limitations such as previous or current injuries or just don't feel confident in your form or exercise choices to meet your goals, I highly suggest you meet with a certified personal trainer to discuss where you're at and where you want to go. While your workouts do not necessarily need the supervision of a trainer (especially if they are under 30 minutes), it would be a good idea to meet with one at least once a month to discuss your progress and ask any questions you may have. This way you have a professional writing out a program or two for you to follow, preferably with progressions, with your best interests in mind.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Identifying & Overcoming Your Barriers to Successful Weight Loss

In a recent article published in the January 2011 IDEA Fitness Journal, Len Kravitz, PhD explores what motivates people to exercise and the reasons and strategies for exercise adherence.

Research suggests that 50% of those starting an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months. When you read that statement, does it scare you or motivate you? In my experience it is more often than not that the people who read that and think, "That won't be be me!" are the ones who will stick to the program. If you read that and thought, "That will probably be me," take time to think about why. Even if you thought, "I hope that's not me," it's a good idea to examine what's causing even a shred of doubt.

Now is the time to identify your barriers and figure out the possible ways to beat them. For example, if your biggest barrier is lack of time, it is important to take the time to plan, organize, and prioritize exercise. Look at your calendar for the month, not just the week, and pencil in your workouts just as you would a doctor's appt. If your biggest barrier is motivation, then try new and different exercise options. We have more options than ever when it comes to choosing a method of exercise that works for you. While many enjoy the comradery of group fitness, some might need a bit more privacy or some prefer to enjoy their time alone listening to their iPod.

If just walking into a gym is intimidating, then try out some at-home DVDs or some of the new dance games for Wii and PlayStation (e.g. Just Dance, The Michael Jackson Experience). My advice in the winter is to have a back-up plan in case of inclement weather. If you're like me, then you probably had plans to hit the gym on Monday, 12/27 after a long weekend of holiday eating. That would've went to plan had they're not been a blizzard dropping over 2 feet of snow on us, not counting the gusty winds and snow drifts. In this case, it's good to have your favorite dance or workout DVD on hand to take the place of the cardio you planned to do.

If it's a lack of confidence while exercising, I highly suggest finding a good personal trainer. No matter what your income or schedule is like, there is always a personal trainer to fit your needs and budget. Keep in mind, a good trainer will understand if you can only meet once a week or once a month. They will understand your limitations but work with you to get past them, at an appropriate pace. If you are referred a trainer, it is best to speak with them first about their methods of training. Don't want a drill instructor? Better specify. Getting yelled at the only way to motivate you? Make sure your trainer is comfortable doing that.

It is important to remember that good nutrition and a good night's sleep is key to reaching your goals. The good news is that exercise done with the right amount of exertion will lead to a deep sleep (especially in the beginning of your program) and more than likely influence your eating habits. Many of my clients tell me they are less likely to grab that bread and butter at dinner after a grueling training session and with good reason. Make sure that you are open to changing your eating and sleeping habits for the better when deciding to start an exercise regimen. They all work together.

You also want to remember to keep your goals small at first. Remember: S.M.A.R.T. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. People are prone to dropping out if exercise does not meet their expectations. A person who expects to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time and does not is likely to abandon the exercise program. Changes don't happen overnight and losing any more than a pound to two pounds per week is just water weight.

Now it's your turn. Tell the Body by Kelly community what your exercise barriers are and how you plan to overcome them. Or perhaps you already have. If you've lost weight and maintained your goal weight, tell us how you worked past your biggest obstacles to reach your goal.