Tag Archives: Physical exercise

Does This Video Game Make My Butt Look Big?

Video games, while fun for a short time, have always seemed to promote a sort of lethargy leading to overeating, weight gain and perhaps even a loss of brain cells.  I did not grow up playing video games for hours and while I own a PlayStation 3 we use it mainly for the Blu-ray player.

My husband has been involved with a program called Rehabbing with the Troops which helps wounded veterans get back into shape using a workout video game and a lot of support.  I wanted to try it myself but I have to admit I was sort of skeptical as to how difficult the workouts would be considering I’ve tried the Wii Fit and didn’t find it to be particularly challenging.  The Wii Fit did not allow for a flow from exercise to exercise and there was no way to calculate how hard you were working.

 

EA Active 2 Setup

EA Active 2 Setup

 

 

The program they are using for the veteran’s rehabilitation is the EA Active 2 for PlayStation 3.  The game uses three sensors; one for both your arms and one for your leg.  One of the arm sensors also contains a heart rate monitor.  Included with the sensors and the game is a resistance band.

The workouts are entirely customizable, although you can choose a pre-made workout if you’d prefer.  This afternoon, I decided to test the program and see if it would get me to break any kind of a sweat.  I must say, I was surprised at the results.

My workout I designed consisted of approximately 50 minutes of workout time.  I chose to do a couple warm up exercises like shoulder rotations and knee tucks.  I added cardio to the beginning of the workout to get my heart rate up.  I chose to do mainly sprints in which you race against the computer avatars in the game.  By the end of the cardio, my heart rate was up slightly and I was ready to move on to the main body of the exercises.

I chose to do a lower body and abdominal workout.  I would perform moves like alternating jump split lunges, split lunges with high knees and squats.  After every lower body set, I would move on to an ab exercise like flutter kicks and reverse crunches.  Each set varied in reps, but I had it set to HARD so the reps were about 24 and I did two sets each.

The alternating jump split lunges and the split lunges with high knees were by far the most challenging for me.  They are plyometric in the sense that you’re getting off the ground and at the same time strengthening your body.  My legs were hurting a little, but my heart rate was in the zone and I was doing some heavy breathing.  I chose to finish off with more cardio like mountain climbers and skipping (jump rope).  I ended with a few stretches to cool down.

 

Workout

Active 2 Workout

 

At the end of the workout, my heart rate monitor said I burned 330 calories in those 50 minutes.  This isn’t huge calorie burn.  Still, it’s a much, much better workout than I was expecting.  I’m sure I could make the workout even more difficult if I wanted to burn even more calories.  My average heart rate was about 123 according to the monitor, although I peaked at about 170.

 

Heart Rate

Heart Rate Monitor Reading

 

 

Overall, this is a much, much better program than the Wii Fit and offers a wide array of workout options.  I wouldn’t necessarily replace any of my current workouts that I do, but I would definitely add this to the mix.  It’s always good to have variety and at the end of the day, this is fun and you’ll absolutely break a sweat!  This video game is not the kind that will make your butt look big.

My Favorite P90x Moves

It took me forever to finally break down and buy the P90x system.  The price was the absolute biggest factor.  I couldn’t get myself to pay $120 dollars for a workout dvd.  Then I realized that most people pay at least that much going to a gym, so I found it to be more of an investment that anything.  Plus, even if I wasn’t the perfect P90x-er, I was still going to get a great workout.  In the end, I went on Amazon.com and found the system for $80 used.  I couldn’t say no to that price!

So I’m going to share with you my favorite moves from the workout dvd’s.  Now you can try these at home or at your gym and see if they work for you.  At the very least, you’ll see what I’ve been doing these past few weeks! I’ll try to explain them as best as possible. I’d much rather demonstrate them, but I supplied pictures to help you see what I am saying in my description of each move.

Here are my Top 5 Exercises

5) Balance Lunges

Balance Lunges

Balance Lunge

This move belongs to the Legs and Back series of exercises.  I love this move and was doing them even before P90x.

Place top of foot (or tiptoes) on chair. Lunge outward with other leg. Be sure to keep knee over ankle.  Dip down without allowing your knee to move past ankle. If necessary, modify by placing top of foot on chair. To intensify: Add light weights and increase range of motion.

4) Dive Bombers

Dive Bomber

Dive Bomber

The dive bomber is awesome.  I can usually only do 8-10 because my arms literally collapse.  This is part of the Chest and Back workout.

Begin in a “downward facing dog”-like position but with wider feet and arms.

Lower your head to the ground as you arch your bad – pretend there is a fence and you are going to go underneath it.  Stay on your toes as you do this move.

Finish by pushing yourself upwards.  Your back will be arched.  Your chest should be up with straight arms – this is like an “upward dog” pose in yoga.  You should still be kind of on your toes, your knees shouldn’t be touching the ground.

To go into the next move, either push back into a downward dog or do the move in reverse by lowering back into the second part of the exercise and again back into the downward facing position.  Either will work, but doing the move in reverse will be harder.

3) Right Angle Pose and Extended Right Angle Pose

 

Extended Right Angle Pose

Extended Right Angle Pose

This one is kind of tricky to explain, but I’ll do my best.  This is my favorite move from the Yoga series.  Begin in a deep lunge, don’t allow your knee to extend over your ankle in the process.  Next, raise your arm over your head.  Your other hand can balance on the ground nearest your front foot for now.

Next, bring your raised arm back behind you.  Use the other arm to reach under your front thigh and grab your wrist.  Hold this pose for 30 seconds or so.  Then do the other side with the opposite leg in front and the opposite arm reaching behind and underneath you.

2) Jump Knee Tuck

 

Jump Knee Tuck

Jump Knee Tuck

This is fairly straight forward.  The jump knee tuck exercise is part of the Plyometrics workout.  Basically, you’ll want comfortable shoes for this one and a cushy mat under you.  You’re going to spring off the ground and tuck your knees into your chest then land on your toes.  Try to make sure you don’t come booming down to the ground – you should land relatively quietly if you’re landing on the balls of your feet.  Do this multiple times for at least 30 seconds.  The last 10 seconds, pick up the pace and do as many as you can very fast.

1) The Push-Up

 

Push Up

Push Up

Surprise!  Anyone who has read through my blog knows I am a stickler for push-ups.  They really are the best exercise that hits all the best places on your body.  You’ll work your chest, butt, arms and abs.  No more saggy anything with this move.  Heck, if it’s good enough for those tough army soldiers, it’s good enough for me!

Now, start in the plank position.  Lower yourself, keeping your back straight (not saggy and don’t allow your butt to stick out in the air).  Keep lowering your body until your arms form a 90 degree angle.

Next push back up onto your hands, keeping proper form and then repeat the exercise.

Your wrists may hurt, so try getting the push up bars as these will keep your wrists from straining and will also extend your range of motion.

So there is just a taste of my daily burn.  I’ll post more exercises as I go.  I hope this helped anyone who was curious as to what the P90x program entails.  Obviously there is a LOT more exercises, these are just my favorites that I look forward to sweating through.

No Room at the Gym: when resolutionaries take over your gym space

Overcrowded Gym

Overcrowded Gym

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that they are avoiding their gyms like the plague.  Why?  Because they have been usurped by an overwhelming number of people who are working out as a part of their New Years resolutions.  I can’t blame them for not wanting to cram themselves into their gyms.  I hate going when there are a lot of people there and you have to wait for machines.  That’s why I just avoid the gym all together and workout in my home.

But, if you still want to hold on to that gym membership, but need a way to get your workout in without clawing your way to the elliptical – this is for you.

First, try going during the weekday or weekend evenings.  These are the time frames where you’ll find the least amount of people.  If you have a membership to a 24 hour gym, you can go late into the evening on weekdays as well.  This isn’t necessarily convenient, but keep in mind it is only temporary.  The mad rush will die down or smooth itself out.

Second, try taking a fitness class at your gym (or even a different gym).  They’re fun and still allow you to get in your calorie burn.  Plus, this allows you to get out of a workout rut and try something new that you may end up enjoying!  If you’re nervous to show up to a class solo -invite a friend to join you!  Otherwise, don’t sweat it too much because everyone is there just to get in shape and have a good time.

Finally, if all else fails buy a couple of workout dvds, go for a run, par-take in a winter activity like snowshoeing or take a yoga class at a private studio.  There are many options to get you in shape without even stepping into a gym.  YouTube even has workout videos if you don’t feel like paying money for a dvd.

You just have to make it work!

P.S. Also, don’t forget to not look on the new gym goers in a negative light.  Sure you have to wait for the treadmill, but they are probably in need of support and a good gym buddy!  So if you see someone at your gym who looks like they don’t know what they are doing, give them a hand and help them succeed with their fitness goals too!

See below for a sample workout from YouTube and links to more info!

http://www.abc27.com/Global/story.asp?S=13775178

How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year's Resolutions

Every year you say to yourself, “This will be the year!” and then…it isn’t.  Why? Probably various reasons.  If you’re like me, you’re really good at talking yourself out of things and making excuses.

That being said!  If you’re dedicated to making a change in your life, be it exercising, eating right or whatever else, you need to have some tools and the right mind set if you’re going to get off the starting block.

Here it goes…

1) Keep your goals reasonable. Don’t start off saying, “I will never eat dessert EVER again” or “I will exercise for one hour EVERY single day without fail”.   While these are great goals, they aren’t necessarily realistic.  There may be days where you can’t fit in your hour long exercise or you fall off the wagon and eat a scoop of ice cream.  You’re ultimately setting yourself up to fail because you’re not being realistic.  Not to mention you might just get burnt out on the rigidness of your plan.

2) Be flexible with your aspirations. Give yourself some wiggle room (not too much though!).  If you want to start exercising, commit to incorporate so many hours of exercise in per week.  This allows for some flexibility and if you can’t fit in an hour one day, you can do a little more the next day or just push yourself harder.  If you’re dieting, don’t swear off dessert entirely, but maybe say you’ll only treat yourself once a week to a scoop of ice cream or make healthier dessert choices.

3) Understand that you are in control of the choices YOU make. With any commitment, you will find yourself being tempted to go off your track.  Be aware that this will happen BEFORE you start.  Don’t just assume that this will be easy.  You are going to crave foods you shouldn’t eat.  You are going to want to sleep in and skip your workout.  Prepare for these in advance.  Have healthy choices in the house.  Throw yourself out of bed regardless of how tired your are.  Recognize you have choices in front of you and you can decide what you’re going to do.  Each one will have a consequence.  If you lay in bed, you will get sleep, but you won’t get in shape.  If you eat that double quarter pounder you will be full, but your body will not like you for it.  You are in control.

4) Surround yourself with positive people. You’re going to need people in your life who support you and will be there for you when you need them.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch those who just aren’t fitting in with your life, but be aware that people can be noxious.  These are the people that make you feel completely drained just by talking to them, they bring you down.  They are not the type of people you’ll want to listen to if you’re sincerely committed to your goals and aspirations.

Instead, find people who will be honest and supportive.  Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or whoever you know will be there for you when you need them.

5) Learn to brush yourself off. If you fall off or lose sight of your goals, get back up and try again!  This does not mean you failed.  This means you get another go around.  Keep sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and remember all the reasons you made the commitment in the first place.  Do NOT punish yourself.  This is not productive.  Do NOT beat yourself up.  Just admit that you went off track and find the reason for it.  Maybe the snacks in your pantry were too tempting, so get rid of those snacks and replace them with healthy options.  Then try AGAIN!

The bottom line is that we all have goals in our life or things we aspire to achieve. They are not easily obtained, but the things we want in life are never necessarily easy.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.  Go into this with a positive attitude and with positive people.  Acknowledge there will be difficulties and keep going!

NO MORE CABIN FEVER!!!!!

It seems the older I get, the more I hate winter.  I love snow, but I hate driving in it and it gets dark so freakin early that you miss those happy sunshine-y days.  This winter, I’ve got a game plan and I’m not going to end up stuck inside, bored and munching on a plate of Christmas cookies.
What’s my secret?  I’m going to embrace the cold.  There are so many activities to keep you busy even with snow on the ground, there’s just no excuse to be a winter bum.  The nice thing is that most of these activities end up being a workout in and of themselves, which is great especially if you can’t stomach running on a treadmill all winter long.

 

 

Snowshoeing Workout

Snowshoeing is probably going to be the number one thing I get into this season.  I live around many parks and nature preserves that allow for great hiking, but obviously deep snow can provide numerous challenges.  Snowshoes are the perfect winter hiking accessory.  They allow for more stability while walking in snow and ice, but also they are huge calorie burners!!!  We’re talking 480 calories an hour just going at a walking pace.  Not only that, but they are easy, easy, easy to use!  If you can walk, you can snowshoe.  It is also low impact, so if you have knee problems or other health issues this is a great option!  There is little equipment required.  Snowshoes, boots of any kind and warm clothes!  Just remember to wear layers that you can peel off or put back on as needed.  For those runners who want to trail run in the winter, snowshoes allow for running in the snow as well.  It’s a great activity to get you out in nature and mixes up your typical workout day.

 

 

 

Snowboarding

Snowboarding and skiing are two other winter activities that, although more expensive, are a ton of fun!  The amount of calories you burn depends on how hard you push yourself.  Still, you are strengthening your legs and ab muscles while going down the hill, especially if you are carving down the mounting.  There is equipment involved, boots, skis or board and winter clothing.  Plus you’ll need a lift ticket, which at a lot of places is expensive.  BUT there are ways to keep the expense at a minimum.  Don’t go out and buy this stuff before you’ve at least tried it to see if you like it.  Most ski hills offer rentals for the boots and board/skis so there isn’t a need to purchase these things right away.  Also, find out if your ski hill has discount days.  If you are really ambitious, get a part time job at the ski hill.  My mom did that for my brother and I as kids so that we could get family passes, for free!

 

 

Ice Skate Date

 

 

Ice skating is another fun winter activity.  This is much more economical than snowboarding and skiing because most ice skating rinks offer rentals and are less expensive in terms of fees to get in.  On average, a 150 pound person can burn almost 400 calories ice skating at about 9 mph.  Plus, it’s great for date nights or family activities!  What better way to mix up the winter boredom than to go ice skating?  You get a workout it, you have fun and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.  Even if you fall down, you just laugh it off and keep going.  If your town doesn’t have an actual indoor rink, many cities will flood the parks in the winter so that people can ice skate on it.

 

So these are just a few ways to avoid the boredom and monotony that the winter season so often brings.  I’m actually looking forward to winter now that I know I have other options than just sitting inside with the boob tube.

The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing

Most of us want a sexy back, perky boobs and a tight stomach.  Most of us don’t have a ton of time to spend doing a million exercises over and over with little results.  Most of us want one exercise to do it all.  Well, this is one of the best fitness moves and it works everything. With this one exercise, you’ll tighten your glutes, arms, core and shoulders and you’re chest will thank you too!

What is this one move?  It’s the push-up.  Yes, push-ups are the miracle exercise.  You torch calories and tone nearly everything.  They are hard, but they are effective.  Plus there are a ton of variations to make them easier or harder.  The most important thing, is watch your form.

Basic Push Up

The Basic

Now here, you’ll start in a plank position.  Then lower your body till your elbows are at about a 45 degree angle.  Keep your back flat, do not arch your back or allow your hips to sag.  Then push back up to starting position and repeats.  If your wrists are aching, try using dumbbells or push up bars to allow for a more full range of motion and to take stress of the wrists.

During the exercise, if you can’t keep from arching or sagging, move to your knees until you are strong enough to do one with proper form.  As you get stronger, you’ll begin on your toes and do as many until your form breaks, and then move to your knees.  You’ll find yourself being able to do more and more on your toes.

Do not get discouraged if you aren’t able to do one push up on your toes to begin with.  I wasn’t able to do one either.  My husband would help support my torso and watch my form to make sure I could do it correctly.  I built up a lot of strength and now I can do 20 without stopping.  This really is a great exercise.  My abs look great since I’ve been doing them and so do my arms and chest.  You will feel strong and look toned.  Give them a try!

If you want more variations, check out Womens Health online.  They have great tips!

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/perfect-pushup

Plyometrics: Jump Into A Better Body

Plyometrics

Burn Serious Calories Fast

I never was involved in sports at the high school level.  I didn’t understand what it meant to train for anything.  When I finally wanted to get into working out, I had no idea where to begin.  I would get on the treadmill or the eliptical and would go for quite a while, but never saw any real results.  These days, I know what my body feels like when it’s actually doing work.  I can tell when I’m getting my heart rate up and my muscles are starting to burn slightly, that the exercises are actually doing something.  With Plyometrics, there will never be any doubt that your body is indeed working and changing for the better.

Plyometrics is also referred to as jump training.  It is a series of explosive movements, such as jump squats, which not only gets your heart rate up (and keeps it there) but also builds muscle.  These exercises are designed to improve endurance, strength and agility all at the same time. 

Plyometrics allows for some serious calorie burning as well.  I do the P90x plyometrics video and people have reported burning as many as 895 calories during that one hour video.  Granted calories burned will vary depending on each individual’s weight, age and current fitness level.  Still, it can’t be denied that you have the potential to get a great workout in a short amount of time.  According to Runner’s World, runners who included plyometrics into their workout schedule improved the amount of oxygen they use while running, as well as their overall stride, range of motion and fitness level in just 6 weeks.

Speaking from personal experience, I love this type of workout.  I hate spending time at the gym, only to feel like I didn’t do enough or that I wasted my time doing exercises that aren’t effective.  With Plyometrics, I never feel cheated out of my time.  I get done and I am sweating and exhausted and out of breath, but deep down I feel fantastic. 

Just be aware that you may need to adjust exercises if you have knee or joint problems because they are high impact.  That doesn’t mean you have to necessarily avoid them like the plague, just make adjustments to fit you needs.  And be sure to do the exercises properly and in good form to avoid injury.

Here is a sample Plyometrics workout video

For more info and workouts, check out the links below. 

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/jumping-workout

http://www.self.com/fitness/workouts/2007/12/plyometric-jumping-slideshow#slide=1

Yoga Is Bringing Sexy Back

Vanity Fair - Planet Yoga

No This Is Not Me... Obviously!

Yoga has never been my kind of workout.  I guess I’m so used to being out of breath constantly and moving fast that the switch to yoga was hard to get used to.  Now that I’ve done it a few times through the P90x program, I’ve learned to love it.  I feel amazing, my body feels amazing and I can tell it’s working hard to hold those poses.

Now the other great part of yoga are the clothes.  Lets get real, the clothes make any woman look hot.  I love the yoga pants and the way my butt looks in them.  That said, I noticed that certain poses are more difficult even with yoga pants on.  Especially the tree pose because my foot slides on the fabric of the pants.  This was the case this morning, so I just ditched the pants and finished the workout in my boy short underwear… yes, underwear.  I actually enjoyed working out more while wearing less!  I think a part of it was just feeling sexier.  Obviously if you are going to perform yoga in your skibbies, I suggest you close the blinds.  You don’t want to attract peeping toms!

What you will attract is your boyfriend or husband.  Especially if they catch you working out in your cute undies.  My husband was doing the dishes at the time and peeked in while I was holding the bridge pose.  You could tell he appreciated my workouts a lot more.

Obviously, this may not be something you’d want to do every morning.  But on the days you’re feeling it, let yourself go and just enjoy the workout in a whole new way!

More Reasons to Break a Sweat

Fitness Magazines.com had a cool article on the benefits of exercising.  We all know it’s good for us, but it’s always motivating to read more reasons why you should be doing it! So here’s a few:

 

Immediate Mood Boost – your body produces endorphines, seratonin, dopamine and norepinepherine which leave you feeling energized and stress-free

Fight Off Sickness – everytime you workout your immune system gets stronger because your body sends out special proteins that protect from infections

Lower Blood Pressure – working out keeps your heart healthy and lowers your blood pressure for almost an entire day

Keeps You Focused – increases oxygen and blood to the brain

You Live Longer – adding only 30 minutes of cardio to your schedule 3 days a week can add 6 years to your life

And the more obvious is… Your gain lean muscle and are will stay (or become) more slim and fit

 

My main reason for working out is always just because I love the way it feels to have accomplished something challenging.  I try not to have my main reason be for losing weight, etc. because all in all I just want to be healthy.  I don’t pay attention to the scale, I pay attention to how my clothes fit and how I feel overall.  I notice that if I miss a workout or eat unhealthy foods, I feel like crap the rest of the day.  Even my husband notices the difference when I don’t get my workout in.

Plus, I like to remember that this is the only body you get.  The body works so hard every day, your heart, your lungs and just to keep you going day in and day out.  I feel it’s the least you can do to sort of take the stress off of it.  You have to be good to your body so it will be good to you in years ahead.

Anyways, I love finding more reasons to keep up the good work and staying motivated!  Just thought I’d send you all some motivation as well.

 

To read the whole article from Fitness Magazine click below.

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/motivation/get-started/power-surge-the-hidden-benefits-of-exercise/