The Skinny on BMI

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is once again receiving some attention questioning its usefulness as an indicator of health. A recent article in Time magazine points out what athletes have known for years, that if you work out regularly, it’s easy to tip the scales into the overweight category according to BMI, even for very fit individuals. So what gives? Why do doctors keep using BMI to assess the health of their patients, and what do you need to know about BMI?

BMI uses a simple calculation based on height and weight to determine the likelihood that someone is carrying too much or too little body fat. Although it isn’t foolproof, it’s a pretty good starting point to determine whether you need to lose a few pounds. You can calculate your own BMI easily using an online calculator, like this one. If you’re a female with a medium to small build, a healthy body fat level, and not unusually muscular, you’ll probably find yourself fitting pretty easily within the healthy range. Once you get outside of those categories, BMI gets a little trickier.

We all know that muscle weighs more than fat and BMI is a classic example of how this bears out in practice. Since bodybuilders and other athletes emphasize gaining muscle in their training, they frequently fall into an unhealthy BMI, while exhibiting a very healthy range of body fat. This is one reason that both male and female athletes benefit from prioritizing performance over a number on the scale (here’s a fun blog on why weight isn’t always the best predictor of health or performance).

This happens across the board for men, women and even children. Since men have a lower percentage of body fat than women, and since BMI doesn’t consider gender, men are even more likely to be considered overweight by the BMI calculator, especially if they work out. So where does that leave you when calculating your goal weight or when talking to your doctor at your next physical?

Basically, BMI is a good starting point for a conversation about your weight. If you know that you’re overweight but you’re also pretty fit, BMI probably isn’t going to be the best way for you to establish your goal weight. We know that for overweight individuals, losing 10 percent of their bodyweight is associated with huge improvements in health indicators, so this might be the best place for you to start if you’re looking for an achievable goal with a big pay-off for your health.

Here are other indications of healthy bodyweight:

  1. Tracking body fat through skin caliper or electrical impedance testing. This isn’t perfect in terms of accuracy, but if you control for hydration and the individual doing the testing, it’s not bad.
  2. Changes in measurements, especially in the hips/thighs (for women) and the abdominal area (for men and women).
  3. The Body Adiposity Index is one tool that’s been thrown around as an alternative to the BMI, as an easy to use indicator of obesity that is based on measurements, rather than body weight. The calculation, like this one, for that index is based on your hip measurement to height ratio and can be a better indicator of health for muscular individuals.

The final word seems to be that, whether you’re male or female, as you gain muscle the numbers on the scale and calculations, such as BMI, based on that number lose some of their usefulness as the best indication of your health. Take a look at your energy levels, your blood test results (you’re getting those taken at your physical, too, right?), how your clothes fit and how your body measurements have changed over time. The best approach uses those, in conjunction with BMI, for a conversation with your doctor about whether your health is heading in the right direction.

Does BMI leave you confused? Have you mastered it? Tell us how you track your health in the comments below.

Exercise and Stress Levels

Behavioral Scientists and Medical Doctors seem to disagree on many issues. However, there is one subject they are in agreement over: Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety. According to many experts, stress is one of the major contributing factors to how one ages, and ultimately one’s lifespan. The good news is that exercise can reduce stress, elevate your mood and promote a general feeling of well being, which can help us live more productive lives and age more gracefully.

According to an article published in the February 2011 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, aerobic exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which is often associated with an increase in belly fat. The reduction of these stress hormones is known to have positive effects on your cardiovascular system, muscular system, nervous system, as well as your brain.

Aerobic exercise also stimulates production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Mayo Clinic stated that physical activity serves as a form of meditation, allowing you to forget about the day’s irritations and focus only on your body’s movements. You will also get more restful sleep as a result of regular exercise.

The article goes on to say that behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina improve, so does your self image. According to Matthew Stults-Kolehnainen, PH.D, as told to HuffPost Healthy Living, exercise promotes neurohormones like norepinephrine that are associated with improved cognitive function, elevated moods and learning. Your renewed vigor and sense of self pride will help equip you in the future to deal with stressful situations in a much more productive manner. It sort of comes full circle.

As with all exercise programs, consult your physician first. Find what form of cardio exercise works for you and begin your program. If you are just starting out remember to start slow, set realistic goals and try to change your routine as much as possible. The typical recommendation is to increase your activity level weekly by 10 percent.

Remember, positive physical and mental health are lifelong goals. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Influence how you age by reducing your stress levels through a regular exercise routine and eating a properly balanced diet.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/exercise-reduces-stress-levels-anxiety-cortisol_n_3307325.html http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise-and-stress/SR00036

Fitness Nutrition: Eating Right for Your Best Workout

It’s no secret that what you eat highly affects the quality of your home workouts. Without the right fuel, you lose performance and motivation, making you sluggish. Need help planning your nutrition strategy? Here are a few common nutritional challenges and a little advice on how to make them work for you.

Challenge 1: You’re working to lose weight and battling a tight schedule with work and family. You’ll be hitting the elliptical at 5 a.m. and really don’t have the time or appetite for breakfast. Besides, you’ve heard that working out on an empty stomach can help you burn fat.

Making it work: Although working out in a fasted state forces your body to burn fat as fuel, you won’t train as hard or burn as many calories, so you’ll lose ground by the time you eat breakfast. A better bet is an easily digested carbohydrate immediately prior to or during your workout. Great morning pre-workout snacks include juice, a sports drink or a banana smoothie. You may end up taking in a few more calories ahead of time, but you’ll burn them off with better performance during your workout and improved recovery following. Within an hour post-workout, top off with breakfast, including carbs and protein, for the most effective recovery and your best use of nutrients. Eggs and toast or a smoothie containing fruit and milk are both great options. On the go, try a nutrition bar containing both carbs and protein in a 4:1 ratio.

Challenge 2: You and your treadmill are meeting up for a 75-minute distance run after work as part of your half marathon training plan. You don’t want to run out of steam, but the afternoon snack you tried before your last workout left you with a side ache for your entire run.

Making it work: Your last snack probably didn’t work for you because of the timing or the content. If your workout is more than four hours from your lunch, you’re going to need a carbohydrate-heavy snack before you run. If you are one hour out from your workout, think simple carbs like those given above. Two to three hours out, you can probably tolerate something that has a little more fiber and even some protein to give you better nutrition and staying power. Stay low fat, since fat is likely to lead to digestion issues and stomach upset during your run. You might want to start by trying some low fat yogurt and a piece of fruit or some whole grain toast and jam about three hours before your run. Since your run is more than an hour, you’ll also want to experiment with adding in some easily digested carbs, such as a watered down sports drink, during your run.

Challenge 3: Building activity into your daily life has you looking forward to a laid back ride tonight with your favorite playlist and your indoor cycle after the kids are in bed. You don’t want to skip dinner with your family, but you know that a big meal makes for an uncomfortable workout. You also know that proper refueling is important, but you don’t want to overdo it before bed.

Making it work: Since your workout is low impact, you have a little more flexibility on eating beforehand, but you’re still better off keeping your meal light and low fat. Try reducing your portions by a third to half and skip the butter on your bread and veggies (great steps for losing weight, anyway!). You’re right that post workout you’ll need a little something before bed. Once again, concentrate on getting in some carbs and protein for the best recovery, although a little fat at this point won’t hurt you and might keep you satisfied through the night. You could try some pretzels and hummus, apples and peanut butter, or toast and a boiled egg.

The keys to fueling your home workout are to use your pre-workout window to emphasize carbohydrates that are easily digested with a bit of protein and fiber if you’re at least 2 hours out from your workout. For long workouts (more than an hour), you’ll need to add in a little something during the workout to keep you going. This should be easily digested and primarily a carbohydrate, such as sports drink, energy gel, or a banana and water. Post workout, concentrate on getting a meal within the next hour or two or a snack that contains both carbs and protein to help you protect the muscle you’re building and to help your body access its fat stores for better results. Following these few basic steps will make a big difference in the results you see from your workouts.

 

Why Running is Good for Your Health

The jury still seems to be out on whether running is really good for you, but I’m here to make the case that it is. With a well-balanced workout plan, running can provide tremendous health and emotional benefits for years (and years) to come.Vision Fitness running lifestyle image

Improve Cardio Health

Running is a fantastic way to improve your heart strength. As you run, your need for oxygen and blood flow increases, therefore making your heart pump harder and more frequently to supply the muscles with the energy they need to keep you moving. As you continue a running program, your heart, much like your other muscles, get stronger and more efficient. Also, running improves your immunity, which means less sick days.

Improve Muscle Tone

It’s a misconception among non-runners and beginners that running only works your legs and your heart. In reality, a proper running form engages a variety of muscles, helping you create tone and definition. Endurance running is great for achieving a lean look overall, but if you want to focus on different areas, you should try different workouts. Shorter intervals and sprint workouts can really help target more fast-twitch muscles, which are different from the slow-twitch muscles used in slow and steady long runs. Incorporating hill sprints will also target additional muscles you might otherwise miss. By its very nature, running also helps engage your core – how else would you stay upright? Pumping your arms triggers your back and shoulder muscles. So, focus on using everything you’ve got with every stride you take.

Lose Weight and Increase Bone Mass

Common sense tells you that in order to lose weight your calorie intake has to be less than your calories burned. If you naturally burn 2,000 calories per day, you have a lot more leeway than someone who only burns 1,200. Running is a powerhouse when it comes to calorie expenditure, even when walking the same distance.

“When you walk, you keep your legs mostly straight, and your center of gravity rides along fairly smoothly on top of your legs. In running, we actually jump from one foot to the other. Each jump raises our center of gravity when we take off, and lowers it when we land, since we bend the knee to absorb the shock. This continual rise and fall of our weight requires a tremendous amount of Newtonian force (fighting gravity) on both takeoff and landing,” says Runner’s World Editor Amby Burfoot.

It’s also worth mentioning that running, a weight bearing activity, is also great for increasing bone density, helping to decrease your risk of osteoporosis. As you run, your muscles pull on your bones to withstand the stress of the activity, thereby also making your bones stronger.

Improve Your Emotional Health                                                         

Being part of a social group may help decrease risk for depression. There is an enormous community centered on those who enjoy running. You may benefit from seeking out a run buddy, but even if you choose to run solo, you can be active socially with online and in-person running groups. Share your triumphs and tribulations with those who can relate.

Another positive aspect of running is the fund-raising sector. Train for and run in a community race that raises money for a cause you support. Running for a charitable event is a great way to feel a sense of worth and accomplishment. Plus, you may meet some new friends.

Running is also great for helping you sleep better at night, therefore giving you more energy during the day. It also increases endorphins, which are what prompts the runner’s high you may have heard of.

How to Prevent Injury

Running is an incredibly healthy sport, but as with all activities, there is always a risk for injury. Mitigate that risk with a few quick tips.

Follow a diet filled with lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Of course running is a great way to lose weight, but incorporating a healthy diet can also help get you to a manageable weight, reducing strain on your back, knees, hips and ankles.

Stay relaxed. While you run, try to focus on any tense areas, in your shoulders for example, and work on letting it go. Drop your shoulders, unclench your hands and relax your facial muscles.

Strengthen your running muscles. If you find you have achy knees, it may be an issue of hip strength. Try squeezing in a few sets of walking lunges, wall sits and planks into your non-running days. Increase foot stability and strength by spending some time barefoot and including some balance work. Also, try cross-training, like biking, which is a fantastic way to get stronger and faster.

Stretch and recover. What you do after and in between runs is just as important as your running and strength workouts. Warm up for a run with a fast walk, not by stretching cold muscles. You increase your risk for injury. Instead, save your static and dynamic stretching for after your run, when you’re warm and your muscles have loosened.

Also, use a foam roller – every day if you can – it will help you recover faster by getting at those really tight spots and reducing inflammation. Make no mistake; it will be painful – at first. But if you continue rolling every day, you’ll find the trouble areas will begin to melt a bit, and you will start to look forward to self-myofascial release.

If you feel a nagging pain, take time off from your workout. As always, prior to starting a new training program, check with your health care professional to make sure you are in good enough health.

So there you have it. If you have always wanted to try running, but have been afraid of the hype, fear not. Follow these tips for a healthy, happy running habit.

Sources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/health-benefits-of-running

http://www.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/how-many-calories-are-you-really-burning?page=single

http://www.livestrong.com/article/368647-running-your-bone-density/

http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/rehabilitation-exercises/lower-leg-ankle-exercises/strengthening-exercises-foot

http://beta.active.com/running/articles/10-selfmyofascial-release-exercises-for-runners

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