5. Invest in a good pair of running or walking shoes. Hold off on the gym membership for now.

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I know what you’re thinking. “If I buy a gym membership or some exercise equipment, I’ll stay motivated to exercise because I wouldn’t want to let the money go to waste. ” Believe me, you’ll find excuses for letting it go to waste.

The truth of the matter is that you don’t need a gym to get started. What you need is to make exercise a regular part of your life. Once you have established a routine and have proven that you can stick to it, then consider stepping up to the next level by committing to a gym.

In the meantime, go buy yourself a decent pair of running or walking shoes and hit the sidewalks near your home or work. I can’t stress enough the importance of a good pair of shoes.

For years I didn’t think my body was designed for running. Whenever I tried it my legs were full of aches, pain and fatigue. Then, by luck in college one day, a sporting goods store was having a sale on running shoes. Out of random chance I picked out the Asics Gel 123. I realized something pretty soon thereafter. I could run in these shoes and I didn’t get the aches, pains or fatigue. I could run further and I felt great. Now, 15 years and 6,000 running miles later I’m still ache and pain free.

Over the years I’ve tried other brands and a cheaper Asics model three times, to my disappointment. Within two or three jogs in the other models, the old aches and pains came back. I switched back to my model and wah-lah, gone. The model is now called Asics GT-2110.

I believe everyone has a solemate (I couldn’t resist), that is a shoe that will work well for them. If you haven’t found your’s yet, give my Asics model a try. I have a severe pronation (duck-footed: strike the outside of my heel and roll to the instep) and high arches. While most reviews of the Asics shoe don’t specifically recommend it for me, it works. The gel in the sole absorbs teh shock of striking pavement, the arch structure cradles and supports my high arches and the wide and cushiony heal tread stabilizes my odd gait as my foot makes contact.

Furthermore, I can tell when the shoe is wearing out. Slowly, but surely, at about 375 – 400 miles the aches and fatigue start to work back into my muscles. I get a new pair and, again, wah-lah, those pains usually go away within one or two jogs.

I’ve talked with many people who have recently taken up jogging but complain of soreness. I ask them how old their shoes are and they say 4 or 5 years. Yikes. Nobody will continue to exercise through the pain. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a pair of nice shoes. And don’t scrimp $30 or $40 on cheap pair. Remember, you’re saving money from not joining a gym.

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4. Try new fruits and vegetables to find some you may like.

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Again with the fruits and vegetables, you ask? Of course. Adding more f&v’s to your diet can make a big difference on your waistline. F&v’s aren’t calorie dense and contain lots of fiber that fill you up without calories and keeps the internal plumbing in order.

The purpose of this tip is to encourage you to spend some time in the produce and frozen vegetable sections of your grocery store searching for different options that you may not have tried because the more f&v options you have available to you the more likely you are to eat them.

The staples of my f&v diet are apples (red delicious, braeburn, granny smith, etc.), bananas, pears, blueberries, raspberries, marionberries, broccoli, spinach, green beans (although, technically I think that’s a legume) and brussel sprouts. But, I’m always on the lookout for something new. I’ll go for carrots, melons and onions occassionally. I love the taste of grilled onion with a little oil or butter. I’m still trying to figure out the pomengranite (sp?).

Costco sells of big back of a frozen berry mix that I love. The berries are always big and juicy. I find that rinsing them in a strainer before throwing them on my cereal thaws them out enough to eat.

I also love fried plantains. Don’t eat these banana-looking fruit raw. Slice them lengthwise and brown in a pan with a little dab of oil. They make a great side.

Brussell sprouts are strong flavored by themselves, but make a great complement to most any meat. A little brush of butter will soften the flavor somewhat.

Sweet potatoes are also a healthier alternative to russets and are easy to cook. I might eat a few slices of plain baked sweet potato with as a side dish.

These are just some ideas for new things to try. Trying something different isn’t that tough. Once a week or once every two weeks pick up a new fruit or vegetable and try it out. Break out of the rut of getting the same old thing every time you go to the store. Over the course of several months, you will surely find a few things that you like well enough to add to your regular diet.

3. Introduce fruits and vegetables for each meal.

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Of course, this tip goes hand in hand with the #2. Give up starchy carbs for fruits and vegetables. But, here I’ll explore more ideas on how to introduce fruits and vegetables (f&v) at every meal.

To many people, f&v’s are irrelevant. Somewhere in our teens we seem to lose the habit of eating f&v’s and find it difficult to pick it back up. Other snacks are easier. You just have to pop open a bag for chips and fries are standard side fare with most restaurant meals.

I’ve found that adding f&v’s to every meal isn’t much extra work and I prefer the varied taste and texture to the standard starchy sides. F&v’s are good for you. They’re packed with vitamins that the body needs and contain fiber that helps keep the internal plumbing clean. Plus, it’s really tough to eat enough f&v’s, even when they’re doused with butter and grilled, to gain weight. Why? Because they aren’t calorie dense and contain lots of fiber that doesn’t get digested and turned into calories. F&v’s are a great way to get your fill without consuming large quantities of calories.

Here are some ideas on incorporating f&v’s into your regular diet.
Breakfast – If you are a cereal eater, sweeten your cereal with a sliced banana or berries rather than granulated sugar. Peeling and slicing a banana takes about 30 seconds. I keep a bag of frozen blueberries or berry mix (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) in the freezer. I put a handful in a strainer and rinse and plop on my cereal. If you don’t eat cereal, it’s easy enough to slice any fruit for a side or rinse frozen berries for a side cup to whatever you eat.

Lunch – I typically slice an apple and eat it along with my sandwich. There are many varieties of apples and I can usually find some that are in season from somewhere in the world most times of the year. Pears also make a nice side. Both apples and pears are great flavor complements to a meat and cheese sandwich.

Dinner – Steam broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots or peas or mixture. Douse with a little butter or oil for added flavor. Also, try roasting vegetables – onions and peppers are especially good. Brush with butter or olive and oil and grill, sautee or broil in the oven until some of the sugars in the v’s carmelize. Try sauteeing some mushrooms or spinach in a pan with a little bit of oil. All of these are easy to prepare and tasteful and much more nutritious and weight conscious than sides or rice or potatoes.

2. Give up potatoes and rice for one month. Instead eat fruits and vegetables as side dishes.

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I’m sure you’re thinking, yeeesh, this guy is crazy, how can I live with my fries and potato chips? You’d be surprised. I gave up rice and potatoes for a month when I first started losing weight. I can’t tell you exactly what happened physiologically, but when I tried fries or chips later, they just didn’t taste the same. Something changed in me. It was like the curtain was lifted on the Wizard of Oz. Fries tasted like salty, grease sponges and chips were the hardened version of the same thing.

During that month I had switched out chips and fries as side dishes for fruits and vegetables. Instead of having chips with my sandwich at lunch, I ate an apple (still do). Instead of having fries with the burger or chicken sandwich at Chili’s, I ordered the grilled vegetables.

What I found is fruits and vegetables add a new dimension and flavor balance to a meal, kind of like matching wine with food. And any spuds or rice-based side dish is just cheap filler.

Think about it. Restaurants want to make it look like they’re giving you a great value. And, in the U.S. that means getting a large volume of food for the money. They’d go broke piling the plates high with good food. But potatoes and rice are cheap. They can heap that stuff for pennies per plate and make huge margins. And, we just eat it all up. I shouldn’t have to tell you that one heap of fries that comes with most fast food and casual dining meals probably contains at least half, if not more, of our daily caloric needs.

So, now, I always look for the vegetable alternative when I eat out, not only because I want to maintain my weight but also because I like it.

Give it a try. You can do without potatoes and rice for one short month. And, if you kick that habit like I did you’ve just removed one big obstacle that kept you from acheiving your New Years resolution in the past.

1. Forget "No Pain, No Gain" mantra. Instead, strive for consistency and patience.

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Many people jump into their New Year exercise program with TOO much fervor. The “no pain, no gain” mantra has conditioned people to think that a work-out session isn’t useful unless it hurts. Don’t fall for that!

I’ve learned over the years that loads of low to moderate intensity workouts have better long-term benefits. Why? First, I’m much more inclined to workout. I don’t mind a moderate workout. In fact, I rather like it. It’s refreshing and makes me feel more alive. When I was younger, I tried to workout hard every time. But, I didn’t look forward to such strenuous exercise and I would eventually find excuses not to work out. So, rule #1, doing something, even if it is low to moderate is much better than doing nothing (unless you are resting by design).

Second, tough workouts weaken your immune system and this isn’t a good time of year to do that. People often get sick after pushing their body hard. And, if you’re sick, then you aren’t working out. Refer to rule #1.

Finally, strenuous workouts also mean your pushing your body to the limit, which strains on your joints, muscles and bones and can lead to injury. And, when you’re injured your…what?..that’s right, you’re not working out. Again, refer to rule #1.

I recommend exercising 3 – 5 days each week. If you are exercising five days a week, then I recommend one day be an “active rest” day where you workout for about 2/3rd your normal time at put out very little effort.

Just having the patience to workout at moderate levels and to get your rest in and striving to be consistent so that you don’t miss many workouts will have you in much better shape by March or April. Once you’ve established that fitness base, you’ll be ready to start ramping up your intensity ever so slightly.

My workout goal is to burn calories and maintain my fitness and I’ve found patience and consistency are the best way for me to meet that goal.

10 Ways to Stick to Your New Year Resolution

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Getting in shape is likely one of the most popular New Year resolutions ever. Here are ten ways to help you keep up with your resolution this year. I’ll write about each one in more detail in future entries.

1. Forget “No Pain, No Gain” mantra. Instead, strive for consistency and patience.
2. Give up potatoes and rice for one month. Instead eat fruits and vegetables as side dishes.
3. Introduce fruits and vegetables for each meal.
4. Try new fruits and vegetables to find some you may like.
5. Invest in a good pair of running or walking shoes. Hold off on the gym membership for now.
6. Set a goal to compete in and complete an organized recreational event like a 5k or bike ride in the March – June time frame.
7. Re-prioritize your schedule so that exercise doesn’t get pushed off the list.
8. Try one or two new activities to discover something you may not have known that you’d enjoy.
9. Join groups that meet for recreational activities.
10. Keep a food diary for 2 weeks and then use my book to figure out how to calculate your food needs.