Overtraining Symptoms, Causes and Recovery

Have you ever set a goal, created what seemed like a great plan and then proceeded not only to follow that plan but to do even more? Chances are you were highly motivated and wanted to cross the finish line in the least amount of time possible. Suddenly, you hit a road block, you burned out, you got tired, you lost motivation or maybe you even started to lose some of your early results though you continued working hard. If all of this sounds familiar, you may have experienced overtraining.

Although the “more is better” approach may work for a short period of time, it will often lead to unwanted consequences and setbacks. Below is information that will help you identify whether your burnout may actually be the result of overtraining, the causes and what you need to do in order to recover from overtraining.

10 Symptoms of Overtraining

  1. Fatigue or lack of energy
  2. Loss of strength
  3. Poor sleep
  4. Irritability and moodiness
  5. Loss of enthusiasm
  6. Elevated heart rate while resting
  7. Decreased immunity or getting sick more frequently than normal
  8. Decrease in performance
  9. Unwanted weight loss
  10. Persistent soreness in joints and muscles

What Leads to Overtraining?

Lack of rest and sleep will lead to fatigue, irritability and decreases in performance and increased resting heart rates. The harder your work, or the more intense your routine, the more rest you will require.

Poor nutrition – Not eating enough or eating foods lacking in nutrients that fuel your body’s recovery from the stresses of intense exercise. Without the right nutrients and calories, your body can not repair the damage done. The ultimate goal is to give your body enough good food to overcompensate for the increased loads of stress you are applying to it, and thereby becoming more fit.

Lack of variety in your training methods or regimen can lead to overtraining of specific muscles or joints resulting in soreness that does not go away with regular rest between workouts.

Recovering from Overtraining

Take time off. How long you should take off will depend on how long you have been overtraining. Three to five days off may be enough for most people, but if you have been overtraining for an extended period of time, you may need more time off.

Eat a healthy-balanced diet including lean protein, which is used to rebuild muscles. Carbohydrates are essential for replenishing your energy stores. Healthy fats are needed for energy and joint protection and the absorption of some vitamins and minerals.

Stay active but stay out of the gym. Great active recovery options include walking or recreational swimming. Movement increases blood flow, which is important for supplying nutrients throughout your body.

Get plenty of sleep. There’s a reason research continues to show six to eight hours of sleep is best.

The next time you begin to experience these symptoms as a result of your overzealous workouts, remember to incorporate some active rest and review your rest and nutrition needs. It will help prevent overtraining and help lead you to increased results in the long run.

References and Links to more information:

http://www.livestrong.com/search/?mode=standard&search=overtraining

http://www.acefitness.org/blog/493/what-does-overtraining-mean/

http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/350412-signs-symptoms-of-overtraining/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/504336-how-to-combat-overtraining/

 

Tips for a Safe and Fun 4th of July

fireworksIndependence Day is easily one of the best holidays of the year. The 4th of July means honoring the founding of our country (awesome), no presents to buy (sweet), summer weather (finally) and food and drinks galore (YUM!). However, just as with the winter holidays, it can be too easy to over indulge and find yourself crying, “Uncle!” Too much sun, drink or food can lead to disaster. Not to sound like a bummer, but it pays to think ahead. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your July 4th holiday without regret.

Sunscreen

The summer sun feels incredible on your skin. However, it’s a buzz kill to wake up on July 5th only to discover you’re now burnt to a crisp. Prepare for a day in the sun by applying a moderate to high SPF sun screen every few hours, especially if you’re swimming or participating in other water sports. Just in case you get a little more red than tan, have a tube of Aloe Vera ready in the fridge. Aloe Vera has soothing properties, and the cold feels great on a sun burn.

Water

Summer beverages are some of the best, right? Crack open a beer, mix up a batch of sangria, maybe switch to margaritas. Suddenly you’re sweating salt. Plan for the “fun” beverages by drinking water in between. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water, plus more if you’re out in the heat. Nothing ruins a summer bash like heat stroke.

Food

Grill outs and picnics rule the dining roost for the 4th of July holiday. Plan a menu filled with lean meats, vibrant veggies and healthy fats to give you energy so you can enjoy the festivities all day and all night. Steak and chicken kabobs are a great choice. If you prefer burgers, try making some chicken or turkey burgers. Or if you really want to celebrate your independence, go ahead and eat what you want, but keep it to a reasonable amount. Meat should be about the palm of your hand. Salads with a mayo-based dressing should be kept to a minimum. Enjoy fun, low-calorie desserts that also keep you cool, like watermelon or popsicles.

Fire Safety

There are two main events people gather around on the night of July 4th – Fireworks and campfires. At-home fireworks are illegal in many places, but if you do choose to shoot any off, be responsible. Keep children away from anything flammable and use “kid-friendly” pyrotechnics, like sparklers, with caution. When having a campfire at home, create a safe perimeter for people to move around and be careful of being near dry grass or highly flammable trees. It’s also a great idea to practice the age-old “Stop, Drop and Roll” technique – just in case. As always, have a water source close by in case of any minor flare ups.

Hopefully these tips will help you plan for fun festivities without the fear of any accidents or indigestion. Have an amazing 4th of July holiday and stay safe out there!

Interval Training on Elegant and Touch Treadmill Consoles

Looking to improve your race times, increase your running speeds, burn more calories in less time or simply break up the monotony of your regular or steady pace treadmill workouts? Try the Interval program on a Vision Fitness treadmill equipped with the Elegant or Touch console. The treadmill Interval program included on these consoles is a speed-based program.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

When training for your next 5K, 10K or 1-mile race against yourself, it is important that you break through your comfort zone in a way that challenges your body’s desire to achieve homeostasis. Homeostasis is your body’s natural need to achieve balance, to stay the same and to only expend as much energy as is needed to accomplish what it is asked to accomplish. Quite simply, if you don’t force or trick your body into trying something it isn’t used to doing, you will never know if you are even capable.

We humans are programmed to seek out comfort, which is why so many people hop on the treadmill, press go, select their favorite speed and incline and do the same workout they have done any number of times before. This bad habit will not make you more fit – It will not make you faster, decrease your run time or burn any more calories than it did last time. In order to accomplish any of these things, you need to get past your comfort zone. Enter – the Interval program.

What is the Interval Program

This program will give you segments of alternating speeds (adjusted in length according to the total workout time you have selected). The speeds will vary from a “challenge” speed to an “active recovery” speed. As you progress through the program and get warmed up, the “challenge” speeds will increase until the final two segments, which are where the program has already pushed you past your comfort zone and gets you ready to cool down.

A few common questions come up, which left unanswered seem to become excuses for individuals to not try a new program. So, to help you gather up the courage to try something a little more challenging, here are some answers to a few of those questions:

Q: How long should I go for?

A: One option is to base your exercise time on how much time you have available, some exercise is better than none. If you don’t have a lot of time, this is a perfect program because it is higher in intensity than your regular steady workout. Plus, there are a multitude of studies that show a short higher intensity workout is as effective, and sometimes more effective, than a longer workout at a lower intensity. Or base your workout time on how quickly you would like to be able to complete your next race.

Q: What level should I use/how fast should I go?

A: Look up the program chart in the owner’s manual and choose a level where the “challenge” speeds are 1 mph faster than you would choose to go if you were just doing a steady or “comfortable” time-based workout. Or, figure out how fast you need to go to achieve your next race time and pick a level that “challenges” you at a speed just higher than that. Remember, the “challenge” speed is always followed by an “active recovery” speed.

Q: How far should I go?

A: You don’t really need to go any further than the distance you are training for and will even benefit with shorter training sessions. One of the reasons to participate in speed intervals is to get your body used to moving faster and taking longer strides. These adaptations will carry over to your race distances.

There you go! Don’t you feel better already? Next time you’re looking to throw yourself a fitness curveball and take your workout to a new level of intensity, start an Interval program.

Sources

http://www.livestrong.com/article/386878-the-best-treadmill-interval-workout/

http://runners-resource.com/training/intervals/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/interval-training/SM00110

 

Use Goal Programs to Spice Up Your Workouts

Want to add a little variety to a stale workout routine? Maybe you need a little extra motivation?  Try a Goal Program! Having a fitness goal can increase accountability and make workouts more fun. By using a goal program, you’ll finish your workout and reach those fitness aspirations more quickly. Thankfully, there are four different Goal Programs available on the Vision Elegant and Touch consoles for you to try.

5K and 10K Goal programs are distance-based workouts with 10 available levels of intensity.

  • The elevation/resistance adjusts automatically throughout the workout. The height of each hill is based on the level of intensity you choose. Speed is controlled by      you, the user.
  • The Touch console offers you a Stage Meter, which helps you monitor your progress through the different elevation/resistance changes in the program. This can mentally prepare you for the elevation changes ahead. The Stage Meter has a percentage completed number that changes as you progress through the stage as well as a meter visual. vision touch console stage meterWhen the meter is almost full and your percentage completed hits 95 percent you know it won’t be long before your hill is over. The Elegant console offers a more traditional profile view which will fill in as you move through the program.
  • Did you choose a level that was too hard? Don’t worry, the level of intensity can be adjusted during the workout to make sure you don’t have to stop and restart. Press the “Workout” tab at the top of the screen and use the arrows to change your goal.
  • Another motivating feature of the 5K and 10K programs is the Time Remaining feedback window. This window will constantly readjust based on how fast you      are moving. Want to finish in 30 minutes? The Time Remaining window will tell you exactly how long each workout will take you. Vision touch console time remaining window

Calorie Goal is a program that allows you to select a desired number of calories you would like to burn.

  • Set your calorie goal and the console will estimate your total time based on the starting speed, elevation and user weight prior to the workout.
  • During the workout, the Time Remaining feedback window will constantly readjust based on your intensity level. Want to burn those 300 calories in 20 minutes? The Time Remaining window shows you if you are on track. Going faster or increasing your intensity level allows you to reduce the remaining time of the workout.
  • Feeling good and not ready to stop? You can readjust your calorie goal right on the fly. No need to start over. Simply press the “Workout” tab at the top of the screen and use the arrows to change your goal.Vision touch console change calorie goal

Distance Goal is a program allows you to set your goal based on distance and not time.

  • The Time Remaining feedback window constantly adjusts based on your speed. That way you don’t need to wonder how long those 5 miles are going to take you.
  • Feeling strong today or maybe you bit off a little more than you can handle? You can add or subtract distance mid workout.

Try one or all of these Goal Programs available on Vision Fitness Elegant and Touch consoles and take your workouts to a whole new level.

Why Drinking Water is Essential to Your Health

Consuming enough water is essential to maintaining good health whether exercising or sitting still, yet many Americans do not consume enough water, which can lead to dehydration.  Why is water so important? How much do you really need?

What does water do?

Water is a powerhouse when it comes to keeping your body working as it should. It assists with digestion, circulation, absorption and transportation of vital nutrients, saliva creation and body temperature regulation. H2O is responsible for keeping the kidneys healthy woman drinking waterso they can eliminate toxins from your body through urine.

Staying hydrated also prevents and treats constipation. “Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

Water can also aid in weight loss by helping you feel full, as well as serving as a replacement for higher calorie beverages. Water-rich foods are always a great option since they are absorbed more slowly. In addition to keeping your weight in check, drinking enough fluids energizes your muscles so you can perform everyday functions, as well as push it really hard during those tough workouts. Muscle fatigue can be caused by an imbalance of fluids and electrolytes.

Likewise, water moisturizes skin from the inside out. Dehydration can make skin appear dry and wrinkly, but proper hydration will help “smooth” everything out. However, over hydration will not eliminate wrinkles since the body will just excrete the excess water through urine.

How much water do you really need?

Our bodies are comprised of 60 percent water, but everyone’s needs differ based on health, activity level and geographic location. That means although the advice has typically been to drink eight glasses of water a day, it will vary. Since water is lost through breath, perspiration and going to the bathroom, fluid levels must be kept up through consumption of food and beverages containing water.

On a typical day, strive to drink enough water so you’re urine is light in color and odorless, typically about a liter. Here is a chart that may be useful in helping you determine whether or not you’re approaching dehydration: http://flowingdata.com/2012/02/17/urine-color-chart/.  Try drinking a glass of water with and between each meal. Keep a reusable water bottle with you, so you can fill up wherever you go. You can also get water through food, like watermelon, broccoli and tomatoes.

If you’re actively exercising, you need to consume additional water to compensate for the loss of fluid through sweat. Drink two glasses within two hours of exercise and continue to drink while exercising. However, endurance athletes working out for one or more hours may need to supplement with a sports drink to also replace sodium lost through sweat.

Hot or humid weather can also make you perspire, therefore quickening the onset of dehydration. Whether you’re indoors or out, pay attention to how much you’re sweating and boost your fluid intake. This is also important for high elevation areas, as you may find yourself breathing heavier than usual. The simple way to make sure you consume enough water is to always have it with you, so it’s easily accessible when you want it.

Keep your fluid intake up to reap all of the benefits water has to offer your body. Remember, “If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283

 

A Magic Number for Weight Loss

Simply stated, if your goal is to lose weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit. That means you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can achieve this goal three different ways: You can eat a lot less, exercise a lot more, or you could eat a little less and exercise a little more. You choose, but remember to set a goal and come up with a plan to achieve that goal.

When deciding which of the three aforementioned means you choose, consider which you are more likely to maintain over a period of time. The choice with the greatest health benefit is to combine a moderate exercise routine with some minor tweaks to your current eating habits. How long you need to maintain the new regimen depends on how much weight you aim to lose. Most fitness professionals recommend that a modest goal of one to two pounds of weight loss per week is realistic and achievable by almost anyone.

So, how much exercise and diet tweaking is enough?  In order to keep things simple we are talking about calories in vs. calories out. I like to use 3500 as a magic number. “Why?” you might ask. Well, one pound of body fat happens to equal 3500 calories. By achieving a 3500 calorie deficit in a one week period you can lose one pound of body fat. That may sound like a lot of calories at first, but let’s break it down. You only need to average a 500-calorie deficit per day to lose a pound per week.

It is easy to combine a few diet substitutions with a bit of exercise to come up with a 500-calorie cut each day. Below is an example for one day:

-150 calories = One 12 oz. can of soda is approximately 150 calories. Substitute a can of regular soda with diet soda or, better yet, a glass of water.

-85 calories = Just one tablespoon mayonnaise adds up to 90 calories. Try honey mustard instead at only 10 calories per serving or regular mustard at only 5 calories a serving.

-195 calories = A small order of French fries at McDonalds is 230 calories. Replace that with Apple Dippers at only 35 calories. Skip the caramel dip, which triples the calorie count with nothing you need.

-181 calories = Go for a 20-minute jog at 5mph (based on 150-pound male).

The smarter nutrition choices made above in addition to the short jog adds up to over 600 calories. This is something almost anyone can do. Can’t jog for 20 minutes? You can also try the Calorie Goal program on many of the Vision Fitness cardio products. With this program you can set the number of calories you didn’t eliminate through nutritional choices to get to your 500 calorie daily goal. For instance if all you eliminated was the one can of soda (150 calories), you still need to burn 350 calories. This program will vary in time based on your workout intensity until you have burned your calorie goal.

You may ask, “How many calories should I be eating in the first place?” Check out this website for a weight maintenance calculator: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598

Furthermore, learn to read food labels so you can become more consistent with your daily calorie consumption and make better choices. I also like the book Eat This, Not That, which can be used as a guide to making better choices.

References:

http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy_living_tools_content.aspx?id=9#sthash.i07GgDQ8.dpbs

http://www.foodfacts.com/index.php

Sign Up for a Race for More Workout Motivation

Are you in a fitness rut? Telling yourself you’ll get back on the workout wagon next week? You’re not alone. Even those of us that work in the fitness industry have lapses in workout motivation.

For years I followed the roller coaster that is typical of many people. I’d get in a workout groove and follow my plan religiously for a few weeks and sometimes for months until something popped up that made it inconvenient. A few missed days turned into weeks and then I’d end up losing all the gains and starting over months later. Sound familiar?

Have you been slobbering along through your workouts or just given up on them entirely? Register for a race or even a fundraising ride or run. You’ll be amazed what a little competition will do to get you off the couch. Having that goal to strive towards will make you workout longer, more intensely and more consistently than you can imagine. These days there are more options than ever. Consider 5K runs, Duathalons, Triathlons, Road races, Off-road MTB and Trail running races. A popular trend lately is obstacle course challenges such as a Warrior dash or Tough Mudder. Many of these types of events can also be done with a partner or as a team.

Here are six tips to get you heading in the right direction to completing your event and regaining your workout motivation.

  1. Go online and search for an event in an activity of your choosing, whether it is running, biking, swimming or otherwise. A good source for many events across the country is Active.com.
  2. Register. Sometimes forking over the money in advance is all the motivation you need to train and prepare for the event.
  3. Search for a training plan. Some websites will offer free training plans for 5K’s, sprint triathlons, marathons etc. Coach Jenny has a bunch of free running training plans for a variety of distances (http://www.jennyhadfield.com/training-plans/).
  4. Find a training partner. Accountability can be a great motivator to get out of the house and complete your workouts. You can motivate one another and maybe even have a friendly little competition. If you’re training solo, share your goals and plans with a social community. Friends and family online can also be very encouraging.
  5. Have a plan for bumps in the road. What will you do if you get to the gym and forget shoes? Pack the night before? Make a checklist? Prepare for potential missed workouts by scheduling them in advance, putting them on your calendar and sticking to them. Or, have an alternative time available. You won’t miss out on a training day if you plan for the worst.
  6. Mentally prepare for race day. Begin visualizing the race as soon as you sign up for it. When you go to bed at night, imagine waking up on race day and go through your motions – what will you eat, what will you wear, how will you warm up? Visualizations can help you feel more ready physically because it will be as if you had completed the race already. If possible, complete the race route at least once in one of your training sessions prior to the event.

After embarrassing myself in a partner-based triathlon event I vowed the next year to do better. The event motivated me to work out harder and more consistently than I had since being forced to as an athlete in school. Since that time, I’ve used that event as motivation every year. Over the years I’ve begun adding additional events to further spur the motivation…1/2 marathon, Turkey Trot, Mountain bike races. Although there is no chance that I will ever win any of these races, the motivation to do better each year, or in some cases even to finish the race, drives me to put in the extra time or intensity leading up to race day.

Find an event and get a friend to sign up with you. Come race day, you’ll be healthier and in better shape than you have been in years. Good luck!

Use Goal Setting to Revitalize Your Home Workouts

Whether you’re looking to step up your spring training or revitalize a lagging New Year’s resolution, personal goal setting is incredibly beneficial. It can help bring new motivation and drive to your home workouts, similar to how a personal trainer adds an element of accountability that pushes your workouts/performance to a higher level. If you’re willing to put in a little time creating and defining your goals, you can bring this same level of energy to your treadmill, elliptical and recumbent bike workouts at home. The best goal-setting techniques will include both creative and concrete strategies that help you to visualize and believe in the end result, as well as to establish a path to lead you there.

Get Creative.  While setting goals can be a bit scary, defining big-picture changes that you’d like to see brings meaning to your daily actions. Think big and think long term, coming up with a vision that will challenge you. Ask yourself where you want to be in five years. Do you have a healthy weight in mind?  Perhaps you’ve become a regular runner and are playing in your local intramural athletics over the winter? Or maybe your driving vision has more to do with being around longer to enjoy a healthy life with your family. Whatever your vision, your goals will be more meaningful if you take the time to make them personal. Try stating your vision in the present tense, as though it’s already happened…such as, “at my annual physical, the doctor is congratulating me on my weight loss of 40 pounds,” and then working from that statement to develop your plan. The idea here is to create a vision that gives you focus and energy when sticking to your daily plan. Lululemon’s blog offers some great tools for goal setting, including a goal-setting worksheet that you can download here.

Make it Concrete:  Once you’ve put your creativity into defining a personal, long-term goal, it’s time to get concrete about the shorter-term strategies you will use to reach that goal. Try breaking your long- term goal down to a shorter-term change, such as a weight loss of 10 pounds over the next three months. Then develop a plan for reaching that goal through your daily and weekly actions. This might include packing yourself a healthy lunch four days of your week, adding in additional workouts on your home exercise equipment and/or reducing empty calories such as sugar or alcohol. You can use the SMART acronym when defining your goal…making it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. This will help you to prevent developing vague “goals,” such as “eat healthier,” without having a means of measuring your progress. Your job here is to come up with a plan for the frequency of your activities, a defined ending or check-in date and a little reality checking to make sure you won’t give up entirely the first time you skip a training session. For more help in creating a concrete, personal goal, check out this resource at Sparkpeople.

Keep Your Goal Alive:  Once you’ve defined your goal and developed a plan for reaching it, find a way to bring reminders of your efforts into your daily life. You can enlist the help of others by bringing in friends, family or even an online community to increase your accountability and motivation. Schedule regular check-ins so that you have a way of measuring your progress. Also, create reminders in areas you’re likely to see them to help keep you on track. This might mean changing the wallpaper on your laptop to include motivating pictures and words, taping a goal race time to your treadmill to help you stick to your training schedule, putting a goal weight on the pantry door or just keeping a photo of your family where you can see it, if being healthy for them is your goal.

Weigh In: What goal-setting tricks and techniques keep you motivated to stick to your workouts at home?

The Best Home Fitness Equipment for Runners

Long days, better weather and the promise of 5K’s to come,  make early spring an awesome time for running.  Depending on your running goals, the right piece of home fitness equipment can help you to fit in more quality training, avoid injury, or simply add to the enjoyment of your cross training workouts.   If you’re already a home fitness enthusiast, you may also find yourself wondering how to best combine your outdoor workouts with your treadmill, elliptical or recumbent bike.  New runners, and those contemplating a fitness equipment purchase, may also need to weigh the benefits of one piece of equipment over the other.  As a runner, choosing the right piece of fitness equipment, whether that’s a treadmill, elliptical, or recumbent bike, depends on what you wish to accomplish from your indoor training sessions.

Treadmills: For a serious runner who wants to make sure that nothing gets between you and your training time, a treadmill is probably your best bet.  While running on a treadmill is a bit easier than running outside, you can increase the difficulty by pushing your incline up slightly.  Including a treadmill in your home gym means that spring rains, summer heat, or simply a long work day won’t throw your training off track.  Treadmills also have the advantage of providing more cushioning than running outside, which can be easier on your joints.  You can use your treadmill as a back-up to your regular, outdoor workouts or schedule it into your training plan.  This might mean planning recovery runs on your treadmill to take advantage of the added cushioning and controlled environment  or challenging interval runs utilizing pre-programmed settings that get your legs moving and your heart rate out of its comfort zone.  You can also schedule days of simply walking on your treadmill, to assist your muscles in their recovery after a particularly long or difficult run outdoors. Space efficiency is another advantage of treadmills.  Many models fold up, making them easy to move out of the way, a particular advantage if your home gym space doubles as a living area.

Woman Exercising on Elliptical

Ellipticals:  An elliptical trainer can also be a terrific complement for both new and serious runners.  Elliptical trainers offer a simple, low impact movement that allows joints and muscles to recover from the stress of running, while continuing to burn serious calories and challenge the cardiovascular system.  If you’re new to running, are concerned about the impact of running, or simply want to burn as many calories as possible while minimizing the wear and tear on your joints, an elliptical trainer is a great option.  Virtually any workout that you can do on a treadmill can be adapted to an elliptical trainer.  Additionally, you have the option of strengthening the upper body at the same time, improving your running form.  Elliptical trainers can also be used in a backwards pedaling motion…a factor unique to this particular piece of equipment.  This allows you to strengthen the posterior muscles of the body that provide the power needed for other athletic endeavors (think beach volleyball or 3 on 3 basketball), while allowing the quads time to recover.

Recumbent Bike:  If you see yourself completing a few runs outside each week and would like a way to recover from your runs that will keep you active, or if you like to mix up your workouts with different types of training, a recumbent bike is a good addition to your home fitness equipment.  Recumbent bikes are also a great, no impact option for continuing to work out through or following injury.  The position of your body in this piece of equipment takes the stress of your workout off of your low back and your knees, so if these are vulnerable areas for you, mixing recumbent bike workouts into your running or walking just makes sense.  Some of these machines take up a bit of floor space and the seated position can make it harder to get your heart rate up if you don’t make a conscious effort to overcome that through increasing the resistance and speed of your workout, but if you’re looking for a convenient, no-impact workout that you can use for cross-training or recovery, the recumbent bike is a great option.

Tell us your story:  Are you using your home fitness equipment to add training options and variety to your running?  What do you use and how?

“Have to” or “Choose to” – Revitalizing your New Year’s resolutions

girl running bleachers

This year is already 25 percent gone. Your New Year’s resolutions – may have suffered a similar fate. It’s true that most people fail in achieving their stated New Year’s resolutions. In fact, 50 percent will have given up at this point. Why do health and fitness resolutions often fall by the wayside? Maybe it’s the doubt setting in, or you’ve set too lofty of a goal and have just burnt out. Whatever the reason is, changing your frame of mind can make an enormous difference and get you back on track for the last three quarters of the year.

Making Choices

The thing about changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle is that it won’t always be fun. Yes, it is way more exciting to sit around with your friends eating pizza (or chocolates), drinking beer (or wine) and polishing off a dozen wings (or cookies) while watching the game or hanging out than it is to count calories, exercise and drink water. However, here is some food for thought – once you take away the mentality of “I HAVE to eat healthy, I HAVE to exercise” and replace it with, “I’m CHOOSING to make healthy food choices and CHOOSING to exercise,” you take away the concept of feeling like a victim and empower yourself to accomplish great things.

Something else to consider, trying on clothes, wearing a bathing suit or running a race might be things that aren’t “fun” now either, but by sticking to your resolutions, by following a plan that’s sustainable and having the courage to change you can make those things fun, too!

Remember, it’s all about choices. The people who “have to” lose weight on those TV shows do it begrudgingly and then typically end up gaining a bunch of it back. However, good sustainable choices will yield long-term positive results.

Choosing to Work Out

At first going to the gym may seem scary. You don’t want to be teased or ridiculed. If you’re not ready for the gym, you don’t have to go. Instead, choose to go for a walk instead of watching that TV rerun. Walk stairs in your house. Do some simple body weight exercise during commercials. Once you have gained a bit of confidence, “choose to” go to the gym. Chances are people will want to commend you for the effort you’re making to better yourself, not belittle you for it.

Choosing to Eat for You

Making healthy meals may seem like a daunting task. However, all of that sugary, salty, greasy food is addictive, people. Once you let your body have it, it craves it. Nicotine and alcohol are no different. So when you take those foods away, you might find you get cranky or irritable. That’s because you’re detoxing. You’re freeing your body of junk it doesn’t need, junk that only packs on the pounds, increases your cholesterol and blood pressure and prevents you from running around with your kids, grand kids or friends.

Start with small changes to help your body adjust in a healthy way and help you stick with it. Eat Greek yogurt for dessert instead of ice cream. Eat air-popped popcorn as a snack instead of a candy bar. Try swapping soda with sparkling water.

Let Go of Preconceived Notions

If there’s something mentally holding you back from going all out this year, figure out what it is and then reframe your thinking. If you can’t do it alone, find a workout buddy to help you. Stop telling yourself you “have to” stay away from pizza – you can have it! Choose your favorite slice and eat it with a healthy side and move on. “Choose to” make up for it with an extra workout this week. Not only will you burn off those calories, but you’ll gain strength and endurance.

Stop saying you “have to” work out. You don’t. Yet, if you “choose to” – you’ll eventually reap all of the benefits including better strength and endurance, and just looking and feeling better, to name a few. Yes, it’s hard. This is new for you. You’re not used to pushing your body. And that’s OK. The more you stick with it, the better your workouts will get. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in the remaining months.

So review your goals for this year and revamp your plan of action to achieve them. Get back on track and share your successes and failures (small or big) with friends and family who can support you. Remember, you don’t “have to” do it, “choose to” do it.

How will you renew your resolve to reach your resolutions? Share with us in the comments.