Archive for November, 2010

The Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s Diet

Here we go. Thanksgiving down and leftovers are calling to you. Now what?  Time to put on the holiday season pounds? Every year this happens to a lot of people. The problem is not the holidays themselves. It’s the leftovers, the parties, and having less time to exercise.

Whether it’s the candied yams or the mincemeat pie (I love mincemeat pie!), there are usually plenty of high calorie, high fat foods hanging around the kitchen. Well, what are you going to do… waste it? No, we eat it. Our diet doesn’t really support all of those extra calories so here come those pounds of fat. Waste the food? We could give it away. Send it home with guests, take it to the office, or to some other function. You could create small portions, individually wrap them, freeze them, and have them at a later date. Or yes, dump it in the trash. After all, what is worth more, wasting some food or maintaining your weight?

The holidays are a time for get togethers with family, friends, co-workers, your kids’ groups, etc. How many events do you need to attend? How often do you over-indulge? I’m not going to suggest you don’t attend these, no wait, maybe there are a few that you don’t actually need to attend (just send leftover pie ;-)). Even if you want to indulge a little, that’s ok, just not every event. Pick the one or two that are most important to you, and relax your diet a little. BUT, at the others, pre-plan what you’re going to eat and drink to stay on your diet. If you don’t think they will have healthy, low-calorie choices (and they rarely do), bring the food and drink that fits your plan.

As for exercise, we all know how busy life gets during the holidays and that exercise tends to take a back seat to all of the activities. Always remember how important your exercise program is to your health and try not to miss workouts. Remember that exercise can also reduce stress and depression, both of which can occur during the holidays. You can do shorter higher-intensity workouts to save time (see intervaltraining.net for some examples). You can hit the gym early in the morning before other things get rolling. Even if you do miss a couple of workouts it’s not the end of the world.

You can also think about where else you can add in more activity. i.e. While shopping isn’t typically thought of as exercise (although some may think of it as a sport), you could park farther away from the store and walk, walk briskly through the mall, carry hand baskets instead of rolling carts, climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator, etc.

Don’t write off the holidays because you went off your diet or missed a workout. Don’t guilt yourself, just start over right now and if or when it happens again. You can make it through the holidays without gaining weight. You could even lose weight. I’d love to hear your holiday survival techniques. Please share them in the comment section below.

Have happy, healthy holidays, Mark 

Enjoy the holiday experience

11/29/2010 at 8:06 AM Leave a comment

Functional Training… Fad?

I just caught the title of an American College of Sports Medicine article titled FUNCTIONAL TRAINING: Fad or Here to Stay? . I did not read the article, but I’m sure it comes to the same conclusion that I do. I just thought it was kind of a strange question.

Functional training is, in essence, training to improve some particular function. Hmmn, big surprise, huh? But here’s the key, since the days that Universal Gyms and Nautilus machines were introduced, weight training took a turn away from function.

In our activities of daily living and in sports, our bodies have to multi-task. We have to stabilize, balance, coordinate movements between body parts, move with strength and power, in many different directions and ranges of motion. Most weight training machines eliminate many of theses challenges. This leaves us muscularly stronger and possibly better in appearance than if we didn’t train, but without many of the other benefits that could help the activities that we may have been training for.

Eventually, we in the strength and conditioning world figured out that, to maximize our improvement of a particular function (i.e. climbing stairs, shovelling snow, playing tennis) our training had to have similar kinds of demands. Thus was discovered (or rediscovered) a different way to train. And it gave birth to the functional training equipment industry in an attempt to give us more tools to work with that can add those additional challenges. Now when people think of functional training they think of stability balls, medicine balls, elastic tubing and bands, wobble boards, TRX, etc.

Is functional training a fad and will it disappear? Not a chance! If you find a better way to train, you’re not going to toss it aside to go back to something that only gives some of those benefits. (although some of the equipment may not last)

The trap is to think that using the equipment itself is functional. It still has to be selected to directly relate to the activity you want to improve. Standing on a stability ball (see below… dangerous and, well, frankly, stupid ) is only really appropriate if you’re going to be doing that in, say, a circus.

11/04/2010 at 6:35 PM 2 comments


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