Monday, February 6, 2012

John Is Fit

John Is Fit

How to Enjoy Weight Loss (Yes, Really!)

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 09:50 AM PST

This is a guest post by Stephanie Murray.

When was the last time you got excited about losing weight? Do you usually wake up in the morning just raring to go and exercise 'til your heart's content? How much do you genuinely look forward to lightening up and shifting some pounds?

If you are like most people (and let's face it, most of us are) losing weight can seem like a difficult feat. The words 'weight loss' and 'enjoy' don't usually go together in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence. We have been taught to believe that weight loss should be a struggle, something to be overcome, put up with and suffered through.

However, it does not have to be this way!

In fact, weight loss can actually be fun. I'm serious. You really can go from dreading any semblance of weight loss to genuinely looking forward to becoming lighter, healthier and happier. And this can happen much quicker than you think!

Here are four simple ways to inject some excitement into your weight loss journey, so much so that you will actually look forward to taking each step (I promise!).

1. Focus on Your Health.

This may sound crazy, but the way you think about food, eating and your own health will heavily dictate your behavior – particularly your eating habits. And let me be clear: unhealthy eating is simply a habit, not a character trait, and it is one that can be easily changed.

Staying motivated in your healthy lifestyle may seem difficult at first, but it really can be simple. Break down each day into small chunks, and understand that every little decision you encounter can be a source of positive action.

For example, saying no to mid-afternoon biscuits can single-handedly prompt weight loss. How so? One chocolate-chip cookie contains approximately 78 calories. Doesn't sound like much? Cutting these out every day for a week saves you 546 calories, and a 500-calorie deficit is all that is needed for a 1lb weight loss. So, forgoing on a 3pm sugar hit that you don't really need can have a real effect on your weight and your health.

Pretty easy!

When it comes to losing weight, focusing on your reasons for taking action can keep you on the right track. For instance, if you find yourself questioning why you have to sacrifice what you love 'just to be healthy', try to re-frame your question. Why would you settle for prepackaged, essentially life-threatening foods (a little dramatic but ultimately true) when you can instead indulge in healthy, vibrant fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, beans, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy products instead? Why would you let yourself settle for something mediocre when you can give your body tons of nutrients so that you feel full of energy?

All you have to do is stay focused on what you want and keep your health in the front of your mind. Be clear on your goals and your direction and your behavior will naturally follow suit. Before long, you will be craving fresh, delicious foods that help you to look and feel great!

2. Get Enough Sleep.

When it comes to weight loss, I find that the basic steps are often the most effective – and the easiest. And who doesn't love sleep? Believe it or not, many of us are chronically tired and amass what is known as a 'sleep debt'. Apart from making us drowsy throughout the day, this lack of sleep can affect our appetites – and our waistlines.

The physiological affects of sleep deprivation can unfortunately wreak havoc with your internal system and make it much harder to commit to healthy living. How often do you feel fatigued and under-rested? When you lack sleep, your body produces decreased levels of the hormone leptin and increased levels of the hormone ghrelin. In short, leptin affects your ability to feel satiated after meals, leading you to eat more than you usually would – or actually need. Meanwhile, ghrelin stimulates your appetite, causing you to desire more food. Together, they can form a disastrous combination for your health!

For the statistic-minded individual, approximately 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep loss or sleep disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health. Furthermore, a 2011 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that while sleep-deprived individuals burned off the same amount of calories well-rested subjects, they tended to eat 300 more calories per day. The researchers also concluded that sleep deprivation affects the quality of our decisions, leading us to choose unhealthy foods more easily. The researchers were hesitant to label sleep as a direct cause of weight loss; however, it does appear to play an influential role in weight management.

Instead, make your sleep a priority. Aim for 7-9 hours of shut eye each night, and try to be in bed before midnight for better-quality sleep. Our bodies' circadian rhythms or 'body clocks' naturally synchronize with the rising and setting of the sun, so early nights will leave you feeling far more refreshed and committed to your healthy lifestyle. Losing weight was never so much fun!

3. Enjoy Your Food.

Eating healthily is a crucial part of weight loss and can change your life. But what exactly does this entail, and how much do you have to sacrifice to do it? Contrary to what you may have heard, Healthy eating has received a bad rap over the years and many can find this concept in itself off-putting. Know that this is completely changeable and you can learn to enjoy eating well. It is all about finding what you like and working with these preferences.

So where should you start?

Break down your day into meal breaks. What would you usually have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? Ask yourself how nutritious these meals are – and be honest with yourself. If you're genuinely not sure, assess how much fresh food (as opposed to processed, canned, packaged and preserved foods) constitutes each meal. If the results aren't so optimistic, do not despair.

Instead, have fun with nutrition! Make a list of all the vegetables you enjoy (and I'm sure there are at least one or two… or many more!) and make the effort to always have these stocked in your fridge. Do the same with fruits, lean protein, low-fat dairy and wholegrains. View nutritious foods as an investment in your health. Discover fun ways to enjoy them, such as in natural muesli with natural yoghurt, fresh berries and a dash of honey, a simple garden salad with a lemon dressing or grilled salmon with a dukkah crust. With the expansion of cooking shows and blogs, there is no shortage of quick, easy and healthy recipes to try out. Start with something basic requiring few ingredients and a shorter cooking time and work your way up to more ambitious (and time-consuming) feats!

4. Have Faith in Yourself.

A wise man once told me: 'The only thing stopping you is yourself'. This is so true for many of us, and it can be the key to your weight loss success. As I mentioned earlier, your mindset will clearly dictate your results in healthy living, and this can be for better or worse. Apart from understanding that your eating habits and behaviors can be easily changed, you need to be 100% sure that you are able to reach your goals. Without faith in yourself, you will not be able to reach your true potential.

Now, this may be what you have always struggled with in your quest for weight loss, and it can seem hard initially. We are all human and we find it much easier to sacrifice long-term gain (or loss in this case!) for short-term rewards. This means that we are programmed to binge on the chocolate in front of us instead of holding off for fruit and healthy living instead. It is human nature! However, there are ways to use your brain and desires to your advantage.

There is no way you can fully commit to something unless you can really see the potential rewards. No one can force you to take responsibility of your health and wellbeing if you don't genuinely care about it yourself. Similarly, if you think that losing weight is going to be difficult or impossible, then you will act in accordance with this belief. No one can help you if you don't believe in yourself.

Understand that you hold the key to your weight loss success. There is no 'secret' or 'magic bullet' that will be able to help you if you are not completely on board. At the same time, nothing can stop you from succeeding if you truly believe you can. By sticking to your guns and knowing that every step is getting you closer to your goal, you can't help but to succeed. Your own weight loss is achievable and within your grasp. All you have to do is believe and your goals will find their way to you!

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Post from: John Is Fit - Personal Weight Loss Blog

How to Enjoy Weight Loss (Yes, Really!)

Which Bike Trainer To Choose To Stay Fit?

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 09:33 AM PST

This is a guest post by Dr. Ron Fritzke.

He's been a while in getting here, but it looks like Old Man Winter has finally arrived for most of the country. The folks in the Pacific Northwest have been hammered with rain and snow for the last few months, but for the rest of us the weather's been warm and dry up until now.

Warm enough to keep our outdoor fitness programs going far past when we'd normally retreat to our indoor treadmills and ellipticals…or maybe even riding our bikes in the living room??

In case you haven't been aware of it, there are some great options for turning your everyday bicycle into an indoor cardio machine. These machines are relatively small bike stands to which you attach the rear wheel of your bicycle. There are various ways in which they resist your pedaling, which is the subject of the rest of this article.

Bike Trainers Can Be Broken Down Into Three Styles

Without getting too technical, indoor cycling trainers align themselves into three basic groups. The membership into each one is determined by the way in which the trainer creates the workload that will have your legs burning and your lungs puffing.

As is the case with just about any product, the three styles have their strengths and their weaknesses…

1 – Wind Trainers: Simple, Loud…And Cheap Too!

Let's get it started at the bottom of the bike trainer food chain; the wind trainers. Not too long ago, wind trainers resembled glorified squirrel cages that were spun around by the rear wheel of your bike. These contraptions were relatively fragile (the squirrel cages easily got bent when bumped during transport), and in the spirit of all wind trainers…exceedingly loud.

But lately a few of the top notch bike trainer companies have taken on the wind trainer world and now make products that feature cast iron fan impellers which move a lot of air… and can withstand just about any assault, short of a powerful locomotive or a speeding bullet.

A few advantages of wind trainers…
Simple machines that have few breakable parts.
The least expensive of the three types of trainers.
Lightest category of indoor bike trainer, for more comfortable transport from closet to living room and back.

A few disadvantages of wind trainers…
These are the loudest trainers, with pedaling at speeds exceeding about 17 mph setting off near hurricane level roars.
For hardcore cyclists, wind trainers may not supply enough resistance necessary for extremely intense interval sessions.

2 – Magnetic Trainers Are Coming Up In The World

In much the same way that companies concerned about quality have transformed the wind trainer world, magnetic trainers (mag trainers) have benefited from a focus on reliability by companies like Cycle Ops. The Cycle Ops Magneto trainer is an excellent example.

When I was riding the Magneto side by side with the top-level fluid trainers, the Magneto was as quiet as any of them, and was able to generate more resistance than I'd ever be able to use.

A few advantages of mag trainers…
Never have the possibility of leaking, like some fluid trainers might.
High-level mag trainers are engineered to provide a progressively more difficult ride as you pedal faster.

A few disadvantages of mag trainers…
Early model mag trainers and current cheaply-made mag trainers aren't constructed well enough to hold up to years of use.
Lower-level mag trainers don't increase their resistance level exponentially, as would normally happen out on the road while riding your bike. Because of this, high-intensity interval workouts aren't performed well on many mag trainers.

3 – Fluid Trainers Rule The World…Sorta

It used to be that there were fluid trainers at the top of the bike trainer heap, and then there were all of the other trainers trailing a bit behind. Not so anymore…the high-level mag trainers are stealing some of the thunder.

Fluid trainers generate their workload by spinning an impeller through a fluid-filled chamber. As you can imagine, that takes quite a bit of work (think motorboat speeding around a lake…pushed by a V-8 engine). Because there is a nearly limitless amount of resistance generated by fluid trainers, even cyclists with legs of steel won't be able to overpower them.

Historically, fluid trainers had an Achilles heel…after a while they would develop leaks. But not too long ago, the Kurt Kinetic company patented a design that turned the fluid trainer world on it's head.

Without getting too technical, the Kinetic by Kurt Road Machine features a completely sealed fluid-filled chamber enclosing the impeller. The impeller spins because it contains powerful magnets that are paired with the magnets in a flywheel (spun by your rear tire) outside of the chamber. The 'innards' spin in tandem with the outer flywheel without the need for seals or O-rings.

Ingenious! And with that, the Road Machine catapulted to the top of the bike trainer pile.

A few advantages of fluid trainers…
These are typically the quietest of the bike trainers.
Fluid trainers provide nearly limitless resistance to satisfy any cyclist.

A few disadvantages of fluid trainers…
These are the most expensive of the trainers.
Fluid trainers weigh more than the other types, making lugging them around the house a bit of a chore.
Cheaply-made made fluid trainers still can develop leaks in their seals and O-rings.
Stay In Shape Now To Get A Head Start On Spring

Wouldn't it be nice to come out of the winter with a head start? So much of the time we find ourselves having to get back in shape every year when April or May rolls around. But with a well-thought-out winter fitness program, you'll eliminate the need to go through the sore muscles and breathlessness of having gotten 'soft' over the winter.

You may not have been aware of how your everyday bicycle can be transformed into an indoor exercise tool. Now you know a bit about the different types of bike trainers…give them a 'look-see' and emerge from winter triumphant!

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Post from: John Is Fit - Personal Weight Loss Blog

Which Bike Trainer To Choose To Stay Fit?

What is Adventure Racing and Why You Should Give It A Shot

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 09:07 AM PST

This is a guest post by Chase Hooley.

Have you ever wanted to push your body and mind as hard and far as you possibly can? There's something exhilarating, empowering and spiritual about pushing yourself beyond the limits you thought were possible. And adventure races are the perfect environment to experience such a phenomenon.

What is Adventure Racing

The first question many people ask about adventure racing is "What is it?" Let's cover that first. Adventure racing, also known as 'expedition racing', is an outdoor multi-sport endurance race. Adventure race distances range from 6 hour 'sprints' to multi-day 300 mile+ expeditions. Courses usually take place in remote backcountry where race participants can go hours without seeing race officials or even other racers.

Races usually comprise of solo, two-person, and 4 person categories, making teamwork and communication a must for a successful race. Pace and navigation, orienteering, skills are essential. Race information isn't given until the night before (and sometimes morning of) the race, making navigation a valued skill.

Gear for an Adventure Race

You need a good backpack. And there's no group of people more used to wearing a backpack 24/7 than our military serviceman. If these bags work for them, they should work for you. That's why I'd recommend going to an army navy store for a lot of your gear.

You need good shoes, just make sure you get a good pair of trail running shoes. Any trail running shoes should have good tread and durable build.

A solid mountain bike (for obvious reasons) is imperative! You could potentially be on your bike for an entire 24 hours. Make sure you have a bike with the proper gear ratio and is a good size for your body type. You should train with this bike long before race time (the same applies for all of your equipment)

To get a complete list of what gear is necessary you can go here. The AXS Adventure Races are a Utah favorite of mine. Just click on the 'gear list' tab to view their list of essentials.

Why Should You Do an Adventure Race?

The best answers to this question I found in an article titled, It's More Than a Race, it's an Adventure. Matt Fitzgerald goes into great detail as to how adventure racing can be one of the most fulfilling sports, particularly for avid racers.

His article is considerably more comprehensive in this topic but the basic summary is this – If you can push yourself through an adventure race, you can push yourself through anything!

With obstacles like mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, rappelling, horseback riding, caving, river boarding and more – you are sure to face demons along the way. Dependant on your team dynamic, you may be forced to rely heavily on one or two other team mates. But most importantly you will learn to rely on yourself. Because in the end, no one is going to drag you across that finish line.

In addition to a mental and spiritual revival, adventure racing also provides these practical real-world skills that come in handy on a daily basis (particularly in the case of a job):

  • Endurance – Sticking out something that is difficult
  • Leadership – How many employment opportunities have listed this as a personal skill they require
  • Teamwork – Whether we're talking your family, your community or your co-workers you are consistently in the situation to reach a common goal with others
  • Analytical / Critical Thinking – Strategic thinking that helps with problem solving
  • Patience – In a race ranging anywhere from 50 to 300+ miles, we guarantee patience will be learned
  • Communication Skills – Unless you are a solo racer, communication is vital to racing success

So ultimately, reasons behind adventure racing are both practical and well worth it. Anyone interested in a superhuman experience, I encourage to give adventure racing a shot.

"Look at the day when you were supremely satisfied at the end. It's not the day when you lounged around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it." – Margaret Thatcher

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Post from: John Is Fit - Personal Weight Loss Blog

What is Adventure Racing and Why You Should Give It A Shot


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