The problem is that most people do them wrong, then wonder why their backs or knees hurt. So Kymberly put on her booty boots, Alexandra put on her best “squint into the sun” face, and we decided to show you both the wrong and right way to do a squat. Come on now, do them with us! Even better, practice sideways to the mirror to check your form.
Well, are you and your now-perfect squat form ready for some boot-scootin’ boogie?
Photo credit: Creative Commons-Sanchom[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
At the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention, we tracked down the ten top programming trends so we could share them with you. How many do you agree with?
1. Balance training: Not just keeping your equilibrium, but also symmetry between left and right sides
2. Functional resistance training: Training to enhance the coordinated working relationship between the nervous and muscular systems
3. Mind-body programs (Pilates, Gyrotonic, tai chi, meditation)
4. Body weight leverage training: You know, push-ups fall into this category. Which means, boys and girls, it’s time for…..a word from our sponsors (me):
Besides the trend of me trying to hold my abs tight, there are officially six more:
5. Personal training that two people share
6. Stretching/ Flexibility: We’ve talked about this quite a bit, especially as we (all of us, not just F&F) age!!!!
7. Personal training that 3-5 people share: Share the love; share the cost!
8. Group exercise programming – dance, cycle-based, core conditioning, muscle conditioning, boxing based, branded choreography, circuit classes: This one has us quite excited, especially with the advent of Batuka andLaBlast. Look for these in 2012. We’re predicting these will be big!
9. Strength training
10. Outdoor activities: walking, outdoor personal training, group hiking, running, cycling Hmmm, shouldn’t “moseying” be on this list?
So, which was more exciting for you – watching me doing push-ups or seeing the programming trends for fitness? (Psssst, there is only one right answer)[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Guest post from Karen Whittier
Just like every other working mother out there (I know that’s redundant) spare time is something rare. So when I did have the opportunity to get some exercise, I’d go run figuring running gave the most bang for my pavement-pounding buck. Sure I knew runners were supposed to stretch—either before or after running depending on who you listened to. BUT they just didn’t understand…I didn’t have time for that.
Over the years, the body will try to do what it can to keep going. It’s very easy to choose to ignore your body’s signals that things are amiss. I certainly ignored warnings from my body, but I didn’t want to change my workouts or admit anything was wrong. Sooner or later, though, the body’s quiet distress signals will become full-fledged screams.
The usual progression of overuse leads right to injuries. I had a handful of injuries, leading up to the one that definitely got my attention. I was out running when I heard a pop and simultaneously jumped straight up; crumpling on the trail when I landed. Unfortunately I was out a distance from my car and so I did my best to shuffle/limp the rest of the back. My tight, unpliable hamstrings were the culprit and I was forced into some stretching exercises with physical therapy when my injury healed. I even voluntarily tried some yoga classes.
I guess this is an indictment on my intelligence but once I started feeling better I lapsed right back into the prior patterns. It wasn’t too long before injuries and newly diagnosed arthritis knocked me out of action again.
I credit yoga with reclaiming my physical freedom. I’d gotten to the point where, almost every day, I’d be in tears suffering from chronic pain and stiffness from arthritis. I was given more and more medication. None, except cortisone shots, did anything to alleviate the pain and unfortunately cortisone shots are not something that can be done routinely.
I was getting to the point of desperation. I faintly remembered feeling better when I’d done yoga. I decided to commit more fully to it and, sure enough in not too long a time, the range of motion in my hips and shoulders increased; I stood up taller and moved more fluidly. Having my brain work with my body, as partners, has made all the difference! I’m not 100% pain free every day and I’ll never be described as flexible, but I am no longer taking anti-inflammatories and I’m much, much more flexible than I was.
I was so impressed by the results yoga gave me I ended up going through a teacher training program. I’ve been able to unite my passion for health and wellness through yoga with my commitment to fight disease with a new business, Embrace Activism. You might not be able to envision just what you’ll discover once you begin your yoga journey, but I can promise you it’ll be life-changing.
Dear Readers: Add to your online workout buddy list and actively embrace Karen over at her site, www.EmbraceActivism.com.[plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Guess what?! Planking and a fitness plank are not the same thing. For example, if it’s Hugh Hefner and the Playboy bunnies, that’s planking:
Actually, that looks kind of fun. Maybe I’ll try it. Gotta find a good location, though. Then I will focus on demonstrating the wrong and right way to do a fitness plank.
Hmm, obviously my son wants to be JUST LIKE ME when he grows up!
Readers: What crazy locations have you sought out for your foray into planking?
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Guest post from Juliana Carvatt
During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I had multiple surgeries, first to remove the cancer, then to take out lymph nodes to which the cancer had spread, and later to implant a port that would be used to administer intravenous chemotherapy. I was advised to take the year off of school to complete a twelve-month immunochemotherapy regimen, but I chose to complete my degree while I did treatment. I was determined to graduate on time no matter what.
Although I hope to have many more years of living, I doubt there will be few, if any, as challenging as the one I spent going to school, student-teaching, and doing chemo. But with the support of friends, family, and some very accommodating professors, I made it, graduating summa cum laude, right on schedule.
A week after I completed treatment, I bought a membership at the YMCA and decided that I would never take my body’s ability to do miraculous things for granted. After all, it had fought cancer, recovered from three surgeries all less than a month apart, and endured twelve months of toxic chemo. If my body was capable of doing that, the least I could do was honor it. I found myself drawn to running, and although I was never a runner before cancer, after the fight, I somehow tied running to loving and appreciating my body. Starting to run was a turning point for me. It marked the start of a life of living after cancer. That’s why I believe that while treatment saved me from cancer, it was running that saved me from the devastating physical and emotional toll treatment took on me.
Gradually, I was able to do more. I tried not to get discouraged by how little I could do. I set a goal to participate in a 5K race that was eight weeks away. To prepare, I found a walk-to-run 5K training guide online and followed it carefully. On the days I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to the gym, I would ask myself, “Have you ever regretted going for a run?” My answer to that question has always been “No.” Asking myself this is usually enough to get me out of bed!
After I completed the 5K, I explored lots of other activities in and outside of the gym; kickboxing, skiing, pilates, white water kayaking, yoga, dance, and spin classes. I enjoyed these activities, but running was still my favorite. It’s been nearly four years since I promised to honor my body, and I feel I have kept that promise.
Last spring, I began chronicling my adventures as a runner/cancer survivor on a blog, called Hope, Love, Run. I love writing about my experiences and hope that my blog motivates others to push their own limits and overcome personal challenges. I also feel accountable because I share the goals I set for myself in my posts and reflect on them regularly.
Last summer, I pledged to run six miles every day in July so I could win the title of top point-earner on a site called Earndit.com. I successfully reached my goal of running six miles every day for a month, and reaching that goal gave me the confidence to begin training for a half marathon. I ran my first half last November, and this spring I trained for and ran another half marathon to support First Descents, a charity that encourages young adult cancer survivors to push their physical limits. I called this race my cancerversary half marathon, because the race date was within a few days of the five year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, a date I was once told I might not live to see.
it’s better than I ever could have imagined; I am so happy to be alive! I never thought anything good could come from getting cancer, but now I know that’s just not true. I have developed a passion for exercise and an appreciation for my body that many women spend a lifetime searching for. But most of all, I’ve learned that with a fighting spirit and some determination, anything is possible!
Clinton, New Jersey
Guest post by Mary Ellen Ciganovich
For me, fitness has always been fun! I was lucky enough to have been born at a time when fun meant coming home from kindergarten, doing my homework or chores then grabbing my bicycle and riding around the neighborhood with my friends. In summertime we would ditch our bikes for a game of kickball in the street. Or if we could find a mason jar we would catch fireflies! My neighborhood had a small creek running through it, so on really hot Atlanta nights we would wade through the creek like a band of pirates.
I had a very simple case of petite mal temporal lobe epilepsy but my family took it very hard. They tried to explain to me what epilepsy was but nothing made sense at that age. I was told what I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do but I did not feel any different so I continued to play and stay fit as much as possible. If it was fun, why should I stop? Plus playing outside got me out of the house.
My home life was not the best. We looked like the model family at the movies or restaurants, especially on High Holy days when we would go to church. I was very well-dressed, and as my mother often told me, “at least you don’t look like you have it,” “it” being the epilepsy. I used to wonder what people with epilepsy were supposed to look like!
Our true home life was verbally and emotionally traumatic. When mom and dad fought it would just tear me to pieces. I believed they were fighting about me or I had caused the problem somehow. I am a very sensitive person and did not like to hear them yell and fight and …………… I think you get the picture. When I would get on my bike to ride around the neighborhood I could leave all of their turmoil behind me.
I continued to involve myself in activities that were athletic. My epilepsy was well-controlled though medication so to me it was not a worry. In fourth grade I tried out for cheerleading and continued to cheer through high school. I also took ballet through the Atlanta School of Ballet catching rides to get to my lessons with several worthy friends. I went on to attend The University of Georgia, graduating Magna cum Laude in Education and becoming a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
Even though my mother and sister told me I could never get married nor have any children–at this time it was illegal in most states for people with epilepsy to marry and/or have children–I did get married and have a beautiful daughter! (You can imagine the ignorance about epilepsy back then.)
I remember when my neurologist told me this diagnosis, my first question was, “Can I still work out?” Exercise always made me feel good and normal, something I never felt growing up. She hesitated for only a moment before saying, “You’re going to work out anyway, aren’t you?” I said “yes” so she told me to “go ahead. It probably won’t hurt.” In 1986 there were no medications or shots to take–nothing but prescriptions to deal with the symptoms. My first symptom was a sharp knife-like pain through my right eye. Prednisone took care of it. Then a sol-u-medrol IV treatment put me back on my feet.
I read everything I could get my hands on about multiple sclerosis. I even called the National MS Society asking them to send me their literature. In 1986 this literature was NOT optimistic. When I received and read this horrible “junk” I called the MS society and told them what they could do with their literature. Then I slammed the phone down and tore it ALL up! I was determined to learn what I needed myself.
What I read about MS pointed at keeping three things in balance
Usually you can find me at the Sports Barn on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I take lots of classes–such as power flex class, step aerobics, cardio dance, and yoga–because I enjoy them. I also work out on the Precor machines. I played tournament racquetball for awhile but I had to give that up because when I get hot my MS flares up and I start seeing two balls or stumble around as if drunk!
Lately in the heat of the summer I’ve had to back down just to keep my MS under control. You have to know your body. Listen to it. Push yourself to get out there and work out. Meet new people. Make new friends. Find a fitness routine that works for you and DO IT! There are no excuses!! Even on my bad MS days I push myself to exercise because when I finish I feel so much better and I know my MS “monster” is back in its cave!
Being active is fun! It means getting together with some of the most wonderful women in Chattanooga who have become much more than workout buddies – they are my friends, my own little support group. (I would like to tell them Thank You! I hope all of you know how much your kindness, love and unending support have meant to me!)
To all of you reading my story: what is your excuse if you are not working out regularly? Lack of time? Money? The old “I don’t look good enough to go to a gym” excuse?
Since we go for walks on a regular basis up in the hills above Santa Barbara, we thought we’d share with you some tips about the wrong, and right, ways to walk. Did you know there even was a proper walking technique? Watch and learn, grasshopper; watch and learn:
Once you’ve practiced
* swinging your arms in opposition
* bending at the ankle
* keeping upright at the waist and hips with good posture
you’ll be so good you can even Walk This Way:
Happy Walking![plus1 count=”true” size=”standard”]
Guest post from Catherine Garceau
“If I could just recommit to regular exercise, get to sleep before 10pm every night, do the master cleanse for 10 days, and stop bingeing, I’d get my body back,” I thought again and again. But the more I aimed for perfection, the more I found myself plunging into a bag of M&Ms or Doritos (or both!). My dedicated weeks of “perfection” came back to haunt me every time, leading to humiliating binges, chronic fatigue, and depression.
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, I hope you can find, as I did, a whole new way to approach weight loss and exercise. For me, this turn-around started when a naturopathic friend gave me a gift: a Qigong DVD. “Qigong…for weight loss?” my athletically obsessed and skeptic mind chattered. But at that point, I was desperate and willing to try anything. So I began the daily practice of this Qigong (wuyijiehe.com). And to my surprise, little by little, my days became more peaceful and my body calmer. Qigong started to fill me with increased energy from within. Still I wondered: Could I ever get my strong and toned body again? And was it even necessary? I decided I’d only commit if I could do so without imposing harsh and regimented training routines on myself. I flew out into the cosmos my intention to find a ‘whole new way’ of experiencing weight loss, exercise and healing.
Gradually I lost weight as I accepted and embraced my body’s needs for rest, balanced nutrition, and a spiritual foundation of faith. Above all, I followed a ‘no rushing‘ rule—I was in this for the long-term– no more quick-fix.
Synchronicities kept showing me the way. For instance, I’d think of a question I had about one aspect of digestion, and ‘poof’ someone would hand me a book addressing this very issue. I’d follow my love for dolphins and ‘poof’ be offered a job to perform as a Mermaid in Vegas. Just short of one year later, after I had decided to move back with my family to rebuild my life and career, my mother kept telling me about a nearby phys-ed teacher who was attracting up to eighty women per night to dance it up in a neighborhood school gym. Never would I have guessed that Zumba Fitness would be this ‘whole new way’ of exercise for me… but that day, after one hour of Latin inspired aerobics, I came home smiling, sweaty, energized and full of hope!
And just as Qigong had become my body-mind practice to foster deep energy generation and rejuvenation, Zumba classes became my time to forget about my worries, loosen up, and have fun. What was most transformative for me wasn’t the great sweat and cardio I got out of each class, but most importantly, I learned to exercise without the cruel energy of punishment featured by my Olympic training workouts in the past.
Even Dr. Daniel Amen, whom I interviewed for my Wellness Olympiad expert library, confirmed the benefits I was getting out of Zumba: “Few activities stimulate as wide a variety of brain systems as dancing does,” says Dr. Amen. And he was right! Much more than weight loss and toning, my organizational skills got better, my memory improved, my body felt lighter and I refound my zest for life! Everything I had studied for so long and seen manifest in others became my reality too.
Now, in addition to coaching privately and teaching 360 Degrees Of Nourishment, a 6-week course I teach online, I now teach both Qigong and Zumba in my local community. This is all great practice for an exciting future ahead, involving dancing and public speaking.
My greatest hope is that YOU find YOUR ‘whole new way’ to exercise and LOVE your body. Five keys to help you:
Please visit www.wellnessolympiad.com/free for some of the freebies I now offer. Also, look out for my book, Heart of Bronze. Until then, keep it light!
Olympic Bronze Medalist,
Founder of the Wellness Olympiad
Kymberly: Research now proves that exercisers are happier. Did you know that similar to exercise, laughter activates the pleasure pathways of the brain? Laughter acts a lot like a cardio workout, as they both enhance the immune system, increase longevity, help the heart, and build the lungs. Laughter also breaks up facial muscle tension. As well, according to Dr. William Sears in his book, Prime-Time Health, optimists outlive pessimists.
K: Brain hormone Fit Fact — The stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine actually decrease during and following laughter. Guess what other times stress hormone levels drop? Yup, post exercise. Coincidence or brilliance built into our bodies?
A: Whether I exercise OR laugh, there is definitely a LOT of brilliance built into my body. Actually, there’s so much, I think I got Kymberly’s share. Coincidence? I think not!
K: Can you imagine the double whammy benefit of combining a workout with a laugh or two? Laugh stat — children laugh an average of more than 400 times a day. Adults have toned that down to logging about one dozen laughs daily. Except the adults who tweet with @AlexandraFunFit, of course! They laugh more.
A: Oh, crap! Those are adults I’ve been tweeting with? Now you tell me. I might have to adjust my maturity level. Or my exercise routine.
K: So to increase both your fitness level and overall happiness, include humor in your daily exercise plan. Or find people to work out with who crack you up.
A: Can I just do 200 push-ups and laugh once on the way down (from feeling so buff) and once on the way up (because I can’t actually get back up from a push-up 200 times – my body is brilliant, not bionic!)?
Happy Readers: What’s your favorite fun exercise routine? Family-friendly answers only please (okay, it’s actually up to you).
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Guest post by Shannon Hammer
I came by my extra 100 pounds honestly—too much bad food and too little exercise. Early in my life, I’d developed a “diet/binge” pattern, meaning I’d go on the latest fad diet until I couldn’t stand it anymore and then break out in a binge, consuming every “forbidden” high-fat, high-calorie, and just-plain-bad-for-you food as quickly as possible. In addition, I got no exercise whatsoever. I sat in front of a computer by day and then in front of the TV at night.
After I saw that photo, I started doing two simple things that literally changed my life: I started writing down my food and I began exercising. Keeping a food journal empowered me to plan healthy, balanced meals and curb impulsive eating. I stopped eating the food I was addicted to—mainly sugar and flour—and started eating healthy protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables.
At 230 pounds, my ankles hurt when I walked across my small apartment so I needed to find an activity that I (1) liked and (2) could do safely. Walking turned into my perfect exercise. Every day after work, I’d put on my headphones, turn up my favorite music, and head out the door. At first I could walk for 20 minutes before I had to head home, sweaty and exhausted. Before long, my legs grew stronger and I could walk longer and faster. After awhile I added ankle weights to make my daily walks more challenging. The weight started coming off, I had more energy, and I just felt overall happier.
I also got bored. Walking—even with ankle weights and fun music—just got too easy. I needed more of a challenge. The problem was I didn’t have the time, money, or confidence to join a gym. The perfect solution turned out to be exercise videos. They were affordable—I could even rent them at my local video store—as well as being private and fun. Videos allowed me to fit exercise into my schedule, stay motivated by providing a wide selection of workout types and levels, and create a balanced routine that incorporated strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular benefits. In addition, I was able to customize workouts to fit my needs; I could fast-forward or rewind through sections (to add extra cardio or abdominal work, for example), do a partial workout if I ran out of time, and multi-task by washing clothes or running the dishwasher while I exercised.
By keeping a food journal and exercising five to six days a week, over a three-year period, I lost over 100 pounds. In 2004 I felt comfortable enough to join a gym, where I still work out six days a week, participating in group classes and lifting weights. Last year I realized I needed to focus more on flexibility, so I added yoga to my routine—the kind of yoga that’s done in a 105-degree studio!
Even though I’ve been maintaining my weight loss for almost eight years, I still write down my food every day. It helps me maintain my weight loss and keeps me accountable so I don’t slip back into old patterns. Several years ago, I got tired of writing down my food in notebooks and Post-It Notes. I wanted a journal that would allow me keep my food plan in one place and also provide daily inspirations to keep me motivated. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find it—the book I wanted didn’t exist. So I figured I’d write it! That book became The Positive Portions Food & Fitness Journal, which was published in 2009.
My life has so completely transformed since that awful January day ten years ago. I now wear a size six instead of a size twenty-four. I went back to college and earned my Bachelor’s Degree, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. I work at a job I love. In 2007 I married the man of my dreams (who’s never seen me fat but he has seen the pictures). I never dreamed my life could be this good.
Adored Readers who are Overweight, Underweight, On-Targetweight: Shannon would love to hear from you and have you visit her site. If you are in Redondo Beach, join her for a workout!
More about Shannon:
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Occupation: Editor in chief of seven national magazines for a global automotive brand and author of The Positive Portions Food & Fitness Journal (Fairview Press)
Current weight: 123—125 lbs.
Height: 5’5 1/2
Highest weight ever: 230 lbs.
Last date at this highest weight: 2001