I’ve been in pursuit of six-pack abs since the start of 2018, but a broken bone in my foot limited my ability to do cardiovascular exercises to cut the belly fat that covers up my abs. During that time I was doing the 10-minute abs workout on Livestrong’s MyPlate app, but have since purchased a Fitbit Alta and begun using the Fitbit app to log my caloric consumption and exertion.

While I have been doing some of the workouts available for free by Fitbit Coach, and I still do the 10-minute abs workout on the MyPlate app occasionally, Runtastic’s Six Pack app is my new go-to exercise app since acquiring promotional access to their workouts membership. Here’s why:

The Runtastic Exercises are More Difficult

I used to do the 10-minute abs workout on MyPlate two or three times because the exercises were so easy. I’ve since added more time and more repetitions to make the workout more difficult as I’ve become more fit.

Runtastic’s Six Pack app is far from easy. Sure, at level one you’ll wonder how this app will ever shred your abs, but once you get to level two, you’ll be in a world of hurt, which is good. I burn more calories and build more muscle in the 17 minutes I spend doing Runtastic’s Six Pack exercises than I did in the 20 minutes it took to complete the MyPlate abs workout twice. How do I know? Because I sweat way more and am way more exhausted after the Runtastic workout than I am after the MyPlate workout. And each workout gets more and more difficult.

Runtastic Progressively Increases Exercise Intensity

Despite asking how well you performed the exercises included in the Fitbit Coach workouts, that information doesn’t personalize the workout for you. Runtastic doesn’t bother asking whether you were able to complete all the repetitions of specific exercises. It just expects you to complete all the repetitions and asks you if you “want to go the extra mile,” adding another set of a surprise exercise. Runtastic then adds a few more repetitions to your next workout, and I like that. Progressively increasing exercise intensity is what builds muscle and burns fat. Pushing yourself a little harder each time you workout is how six-pack abs start showing through, and I can actually tell that my ab muscles are growing thanks to Runtastic’s Six Pack app.

Runtastic Alternates the Order of Your Workouts’ Exercises

No Runtastic Six Pack abs exercise is the same as one you’ve done previously because Runtastic alternates the order of your workouts’ exercises. Doing the same exercises in the same order makes each exercise easier to complete each time you workout. You’ll create muscle memory in the most literal sense. Back when I was a bodybuilding, gym rat, I would do the exercises in my workout in a different order to shock my body. If you’ve ever done bench press at the beginning of your workout and then at the end the next time, you know the struggle of completing all your bench repetitions at the end of your workout as opposed to the beginning. The same is true of your abs. Leg lifts are pretty easy when they’re the first exercise of your workout, but put them at the end and you’ll be reaching deep into your core for all the strength it can muster. You’ll actually be able to feel your six-pack abs developing.

Runtastic Reminds You it’s Time for a Workout

I’m pretty dedicated when it comes to my health, but I’m probably just like you: I don’t love to exercise unless that exercise is playing some sort of sport. I don’t need much motivation to play baseball, tennis or go for a bike ride, but I’m not thinking about exercising while at home watching the game. That’s why I love that Runtastic reminds me when my next exercise is due. I don’t always do it right that second, but I don’t often forget that it must be done that day.

Before I turned on the reminders I managed to ignore the Six Pack app for quite some time. It took me weeks to get through level one because I didn’t do an exercise for a week. I immediately realized my mistake upon attempting my first workout after the week off. It shouldn’t have been as hard as it was, and I don’t know how I discovered the Runtastic reminders, but it could have been one of the helpful tips Runtastic gives when you complete your workout.

I still don’t have six-pack abs, but I’m more confident than I’ve ever been since starting the Runtastic Six Pack app workouts.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Free Talk Live

Published in Health
Monday, 02 April 2018 18:30

Comparing the Fitbit and MyPlate apps

I recently scored a Fitbit Alta for $40 and have been making the transition from using the MyPlate app by Livestrong to using the Fitbit app. I mostly purchased a Fitbit because I suspected I was underestimating my daily caloric exertion in the MyPlate app. What made me suspect that? Well, I set a MyPlate goal of losing a half pound per week and shed six pounds in three weeks.

It only took one day for my Fitbit to prove my hypothesis true. I had been underestimating my caloric exertion by a lot because I don’t carry my phone with me everywhere I go. I was shocked by how many steps the Fitbit monitored and was immediately pleased with my purchase. But over the next few days, I discovered things I miss about the MyPlate app and things I like about the Fitbit app.

What I Miss About the MyPlate App

The Workouts

I really like the burn I got from the 10-minute abs workout and seven-minute cardio sculpting workout. I can still do the workouts, but logging the calories burned isn’t as easy as wearing my Fitbit while I exercise.

I noticed after completing my abs workout that my Fitbit didn’t come close to logging the 74 calories burned the MyPlate abs workout says it burns. That’s probably because most abs exercises involve very few steps, and the Fitbit Alta doesn’t monitor heart rate. I ended up adding my calories burned manually, using “Calisthenics” as my exercise in the Fitbit app. I have to do the same for the cardio sculpting workout. This is a minor inconvenience.

The Vast Database of Exercises You Can Add Manually

The MyPlate app also has a more vast database of exercises you can add manually, including cooking, baking, bathing, and even sexual activity. My Fitbit might be splashproof, but it’s not meant to be worn in the shower, which means it doesn’t log the calories you burn while bathing (roughly 140 calories per hour).

In the Fitbit app, I had to substitute the “cleaning” exercise for the baking I did while my Fitbit charged. Had I been wearing my Fitbit, however, my movements would have been monitored and calories burned registered.  

The Macronutrient Breakdown of Meals and Foods

The MyPlate app also does a better job breaking down your macronutrient consumption with pie charts indicating the percentage of calories consumed from carbohydrates, fat and protein. It also breaks down your macronutrient consumption for each food and meal. The Fitbit app fails to do so, only offering a macronutrient breakdown of your daily consumption.

What I Like About the Fitbit App

Fitbit Coach

The Fitbit Coach app provides a slew of workouts for Fitbit users, some of which are free for all users. You can even pick your trainer and whether you want to hear their encouragement and tips during your workout. The free catalog of exercise options is vast and diverse when compared to that of the MyPlate app, and calories burned are automatically registered in the Fitbit app.

The “In the Zone” Feature

The Fitbit app displays your caloric intake right next to your caloric exertion to give you an idea of how far you are under or over your caloric goal. It takes into account your weight loss goal, so if you are looking to lose weight half a pound each week like me, your caloric deficit will be 250 calories per day. That means you’ll be “in the zone” if your caloric consumption is 250 calories less than your caloric exertion.

Your caloric consumption and exertion graph will indicate your success with a green graph when you’re “in the zone.” If you’re over your caloric deficit, your graph will be pink. If you still have room to consume calories given your caloric exertion, your graph will be blue. This graph makes it easier to meet your weight loss goals.

Better Barcode Scanner

The most frustrating thing about the MyPlate app is its barcode reader, which takes considerably longer than the Fitbit app does to recognize the barcodes of particular foods. Not only does it take longer to recognize the barcodes, but MyPlate’s database of barcodes is not as vast as Fitbit’s. The Fitbit barcode reader recognizes barcodes, even in low light, almost immediately, and is more likely than the MyPlate reader to find the food you’re eating.

Fitbit vs. MyPlate Overall

Overall, the Fitbit app is slightly better than the MyPlate app, but only when linked to a Fitbit. If not for purchasing my Fitbit Alta, I’d probably still be using the MyPlate app. I say that because of the macronutrient breakdown of foods and meals MyPlate provides. I really like to see how everything I eat breaks down into carbohydrates, fat and protein before I eat it. I plan my meals days in advance at times, and now I have to estimate those macronutrient breakdowns based on the nutrition facts of each food. It’s a modest inconvenience I can tolerate as long as my caloric exertion is more accurately monitored.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information

 

I’m not advocating that anyone risk re-aggravating an injury to simply burn some calories, but there are exercises you can do stay healthy and avoid re-aggravating an injury. In fact, those same exercises you were doing prior to sustaining an injury will be more difficult and burn more calories than they did prior to the injury because they’ll be complicated by your injury.

 

I slipped while on a ladder and probably broke my left foot about a month ago. It’s forced me to abandon my cardio routine, which has severely affected the attainability of my goal of having six-pack abs by March 13. Much of my cardio workout consists of jumping. I jump rope, do X-jumps and tuck jumps, and I haven’t been able to support all of my weight using the toes of my left foot since the injury. It hasn’t stopped me from working out, though.

 

I’ve been doing the same abs workout for more than six months. It’s a slightly altered version of the 10-minute abs workout on the MyPlate app by Livestrong, available to paid subscribers. I started doing the abs workout followed by a seven-minute cardio sculpting workout, but have since switched to doing abs and cardio on separate days, because I now do each workout up to three or four times.

 

My ability to complete my abs workout wasn’t affected by my foot injury for more than a few days. I stayed off my feet for a couple days and ate Ibuprofen to decrease the swelling, but I knew my cardio workout would be an impossibility for at least a month after seeing the first day of bruising. I had to find a way to incorporate cardio into my abs workout.

You Hear Rest, I Hear Stretch

The MyPlate app calls for rest between sets of the 10-minute abs workout, but that’s not what I hear anymore. When you hear rest, I hear stretch. Instead of using the 15-second rest period between exercises to grab a drink of water or wipe sweat from my face, I use the time to stretch.

There’s still 10 seconds allowed to prepare for the next exercise, so that is now my rest period.

 

You can turn any workout into a cardio workout by eliminating rest between your exercises. Even something as simple as stretching burns between 175 and 240 calories per hour and keeps your heart rate elevated between sets and burn more calories. So during my three, 10-minute abs workouts, I stretch for a cumulative 8.5 minutes, burning an extra 30 calories. And stretching is one thing you can do despite sustaining a minor injury because you can avoid any muscle groups affected by the injury.

 

If you can perform push-ups during those 15-second, rest periods, you can keep your heart rate even higher and burn an additional 80 calories.

Engage Your Core Even More

I didn’t even realize how much harder my abs workout could be until I injured my foot. It was while performing bird dogs that I discovered how a minor injury can be good for your training regiment.

 

In the past I would use my foot to maintain stability while performing bird dogs. It provides a third point of balance to go along with my hand and knee, but doing so re-aggravated my injury. So I lifted my feet off the ground and used only my knee and hand to support and balance my weight, which doubled the intensity of the workout. You’ll find you will be forced to engage your core even more to accommodate for the lost point of balance, which burns more calories and builds more muscle.

Take Your Time

My abs workout also increased in difficulty because I slowed everything down to avoid re-aggravating my foot injury. If you take your time and really focus on performing the exercise properly, you’ll find your workout to be more effective despite performing fewer repetitions.

Focus on Muscle Groups Unaffected by the Injury

If you have a lower-body injury, focus on exercising your upper body. You can do seated weight lifting or upper-body resistance training. Focus on your arms, chest, abs, back and neck. If you have an upper-body injury, focus on exercising your lower body. Do squats, lunges and kicks.

 

So don’t waste away waiting to recover from injury. Keep your heart rate up and exercise the parts of your body that don’t hurt. Then, when you’re completely healed, you’ll be better prepared to jump back into your training regiment having hardly missed a beat.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information

I was surprised when I stepped on a scale the day after Thanksgiving to find I had lost almost five pounds in five months. I shouldn’t have been surprised, however, because I had set my weekly target to lose a half pound per week on my MyPlate app by Livestrong. So had it not been for the constant grazing and then gorging of Thanksgiving, I probably would have met my goal of losing a half pound per week, or 10 pounds over five months, because I weighed myself again a week before Christmas and was shocked to see I had lost another eight pounds. (I’ve put five of it back on thanks to Christmas cookies.)

I’ve been monitoring my diet with the MyPlate app for six months now, hardly changing any of my exercise habits. Over that time, I’ve gone from 185 pounds to 165 pounds, and my waist has shrunk from 35 inches to 33 inches. I am a 31-year-old male standing five feet, 11 inches tall. My goal: to have six-pack abs by spring. It is the day after Christmas as of this writing.

Why Six-Pack Abs?

I’ve never had six-pack abs despite being a gym rat in college. My goal in college was “the Rocky body.” I wanted to be 200 pounds like Rocky Balboa. I graduated high school at 150 pounds.

I worked at the University of Washington fitness center as a freshman in college, so if I wasn’t in class, studying, eating or sleeping, I was probably pumping iron. I started eating a 3,000-calorie diet -- then a 4,000-calorie diet. I was drinking a gallon of milk every two days or so, and burning through more whey protein than any broke 18-year-old should. Most of my money in those days went for protein and movies. I would do handstand pushups in my dorm hallway in the evenings and even stole some exercises from Rocky training montages, like medicine ball, decline sit ups (which probably contributed to my back problems later in life. I don’t do sit ups or crunches anymore, and neither should you.)

I put on 30 pounds of muscle as a freshman in college. People from my high school didn’t even recognize me, but despite eating a diet consisting almost entirely of protein and fats, I could never get my weight above 180 pounds. I had plateaued, which made me give up on my dream of achieving “the Rocky body.”

Once I turned 30, though, I didn’t have any problem putting on weight. My metabolism slowed noticeably, and I found myself buying jeans in a larger size for the first time in my life. I’ve had a 34-inch waist since middle school and was even wearing some of my high school jeans right up until I was 28 or so. Now I have the smallest waist I’ve ever had in my adult and adolescent life.

Now that I have degenerative disc disease that has resulted in one surgery already, “the Rocky body” isn’t a likely or healthy goal for me. Supporting 200 pounds on a five-foot, 11-inch frame would likely result in more lower back pain, especially given the upper body, weight-lifting required. But when I saw a 50-year-old man carrying a glass of wine and his six-pack abs around a pool in Las Vegas this year, I knew what I wanted for my body. I want to be the fittest old man around, and nothing says fitness like six-pack abs.

Steps Taken Thus Far: Diet, Exercise (sort of)

I’ve changed my diet dramatically. Calorie counting is a lifestyle, not a diet. While other people play games on their phones, I play with my body chemistry using the MyPlate app. I log my meals a day in advance, chasing the perfect day of macronutrient consumption (40 percent of calories from carbs, 30 percent from protein, 30 percent from fats) with what I have in the fridge and cupboards. It’s not easy, and it’s even harder if you’re poor. I typically only get my protein from whey and casein protein powders and eggs. If I’m lucky I’ll have chicken, or in this case, turkey due to Thanksgiving. Very rarely can I afford to eat steak or fish.

I’ve also quit drinking alcohol. Cutting carbs out of my diet proved difficult back when I was boozing. To think that a single pint of India Pale Ale could have up to 280 calories, all of which are calories from carbohydrates, made me move off microbrews immediately. Switching to 110-calorie light beer didn’t help. I just ended up drinking twice as many light beers to compensate for the lack of alcohol.

Then I tried doing 100-calorie shots of whiskey on the rocks or in soda water, but I still struggled meeting my caloric and nutrition goals despite dumping the empty carbs. Finally, I started drinking the lowest-calorie liquor out there: vodka. At 97 calories per shot, vodka allowed me to meet my caloric goals more easily, but I struggled finding a mixer that was low in carbs and sugars. Vodka and soda water isn’t any good, orange juice adds 112 calories from 21 grams of sugars and 26 grams of carbs, and cranberry juice is even worse.

I’ve found a couple of workouts I like on the MyPlate app thanks to Livestrong granting me gold membership status in exchange for me writing these editorials. I do a seven-minute, cardio sculpting workout that burns roughly 141 calories. I try to do that thrice weekly, and fail more often than I succeed.

I’ve also started doing MyPlate’s 10-minute abs workout, which burns just 76 calories, but shreds the abs. I use an ab wheel instead of doing the weighted crunches, though. This obviously isn’t enough exercise to burn my belly fat and reveal my six-pack abs, but my New Year’s resolution is to increase my training and have six-pack abs by March 13 (for another trip to Vegas).

Steps Yet to Take: Interval Cardio Training

Long-distance cardio isn’t the answer if your goal is six-pack abs. Exhausting yourself running miles upon miles is completely unnecessary and ineffective. You’d be better off running a 100 meters at full speed, resting for 30 seconds, and running another 100 meter dash. That’s why I’m starting an interval cardio training program.

Interval cardio training is a lot like weight lifting -- but for cardio. When I was seeking “the Rocky body” back in college, all I did was interval weight training. Interval training is simply doing an intense exercise for a short period and then resting for a short period.

For instance, on a chest day, I would start doing eight repetitions of bench press, then rest for a minute. Then I’d increase the weight and do six reps. Then I’d increase the weight and do four reps, maxing out on my last set doing two reps of the most weight I could lift. I’d do this for every exercise, eventually turning my weight training into a cardio workout as well. On arms and abs days, I wouldn’t even rest between sets. I’d go straight from bicep curls to weighted, decline sit ups and back to curls. On chest and back days, I’d go from bench press to the weighted row back to bench press. It was exhausting, effective and efficient.

Interval cardio training is exactly like interval weight training minus the weights, and when it comes to effective interval cardio training, nothing compares to the effectiveness of jumping rope. Just ask Mark Wahlberg, whose goal at 46 years of age is to cut his body fat to six percent.

Taking Inventory

After the filming of his last movie, Wahlberg reportedly had 16 percent body fat, which still allowed his six-pack abs to show. But it gives you an idea of how far Wahlberg has to go. Google says you can safely shed one percent of body fat per month, but something tells me Wahlberg will do it in less than 10 months given his trainer, personal chef and cryotherapy.

I am starting with 18 percent body fat, which has me at the bottom of the average body fat range for men. That’s a good start. Men with 14 to 17 percent body fat are considered “fit.” Since my goal is six-pack abs by spring, I have roughly three months to lower my body fat anywhere from two to four percent. That’s plenty of time if I focus my “weight lifting” on my abs. After all, you don’t need a dangerously low body fat percentage to show off six-pack abs if you build your ab muscles like bodybuilders build biceps.

Building Abs like Biceps

The key to six-pack abs is constantly using your abs. You can do ab exercises sitting at your desk at work. Just crunch your abs together and hold it for a while. Then release, focusing on your breathing. These core exercises will shred your abs without going to the gym or even exercising.

You can’t just expect your abs to grow if you don’t feed them properly, though. At least 30 percent of your calories should come from protein. Fat isn’t as bad as once thought, either. It’s carbs that are toughest for the body to burn. You can burn fat in your sleep if you consume casein protein before bed. Just have a bit of Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or a casein protein milk shake prior to bedtime, and you’ll burn fat all night. Avoid the carbs at all times except after a workout. It’s important to carb load after workouts, but try to eat healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables. A little sugar after a workout isn’t terrible, either.

The most important thing you can do to achieve your New Year’s resolution of six-pack abs by spring is to commit to an interval cardio training regiment. I’m purchasing a Cyclone Speed Rope -- a jump rope with comfortable hand grips cut at a custom length that makes double-unders easier to perform. Cyclone can even design a jump rope for amputees who’ve lost an arm.

So if you’re determined and dedicated to your body, make six-pack abs by spring your New Year’s resolution, and shock all your friends at the pool this summer.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information
Friday, 28 July 2017 21:06

Get six-pack abs and never do crunches

Crunches and sit-ups used to be the go-to exercise for those pursuing six-pack abs, but we know a lot more about the effects of those movements on the body. Crunches are one of the worst exercises for the lower back and can contribute to herniated disc injuries. And if you’ve already had surgery for a herniated disc like me, crunches can bring back that pain in the lower back. That’s why in my pursuit of six-pack abs I’ve ditched the crunch, but still manage to find exercises that blast the abdominal region without causing lower back pain. Here are six exercises that will make your six-pack pop without hurting your lower back.

1. The ab wheel

Instead of doing weighted crunches, which put even more pressure on your lower back than your upper-body weight already does, I substitute a 1 minute ab workout on the ab wheel.

 

Weighted crunches are just like any other weightlifting exercise: they build muscle, but sometimes sacrifice flexibility and even cause injury. While it’s important to build the abdominal muscles in order for them to be seen, it’s far more important to lose body fat, and you can’t just target abdominal fat. That’s not how fat-burning works. In order to show off your six-pack abs, your body fat needs to be between six and 13 percent, so you can do all the crunches you want and never see your abs.

 

That’s why you can get away with doing a more controlled exercise that you will feel in your abs and not your back. By “controlled” I mean it requires entire body control and tends to work your core muscles. Add controlled exercises like the ab wheel into a workout regiment that’s already designed for burning a lot of fat, and you won’t miss the crunches at all.

2. Boat pose

Another exercise that requires total body control and works the abs is the boat pose. This is where you lean back from a seated position with your feet suspended in the air and your hands at your sides. Do this for a minute and you’ll feel your abs going to work to keep your feet suspended, but your lower back won’t bark at you because there’s no movement involved with the lower back. Your back should be straight the entire time.

3. Crunchy frog

Another controlled exercise that’s a play on crunches, the crunchy frog starts from the boat pose, but with your arms outstretched at your sides. Then you bring your legs into your chest and wrap your arms around them before returning to boat pose and repeating the action. This variation on the crunch doesn’t force you to lift your upper-body weight using your lower back as the fulcrum. Instead, you lift your lower-body weight using your butt as the fulcrum. It’s a fantastic exercise that you will feel working all six muscles in your six-pack abs, as well as the lower abdominal muscles.

4. Bicycle crunches

Unlike traditional crunches, bicycle crunches don’t require your lower back to act as a fulcrum to lift your upper-body weight. Instead, alternately bringing your legs back towards your chin, and with your hands behind your head, turning into your leg and touching your opposite elbow to your knee takes pressure off the lower back. They can also end up being quite the cardio workout that will burn a ton of fat if you do them quickly, but a controlled motion is always best to avoid injury.

5. Leg Lifts    

Again, avoiding the lifting of your upper-body weight while using your lower back as a fulcrum is the key to avoiding lower back pain. While leg lefts use your lower back as a fulcrum, you’re lifting your lower-body weight rather than your upper-body weight, which is easier on the lower back than traditional crunches.

 

Just lay flat on the floor and slowly lift your feet to a 90-degree angle. Then slowly lower them back to the ground. You’ll feel this working your entire abdominal region and the upper part of your thighs and your back won’t be barking because of leg lifts.

6. Forearm plank (with variations)

More and more people are using static exercises like the forearm plank in the place of crunches. Why? Because there’s no movement, which means no risk to joints or the back. It’s also really difficult.

 

Push-ups have been a staple exercise for such a long time because they safely build muscle in multiple muscle groups. You can feel push-ups working your chest, biceps, triceps, abs and even upper back -- and all you’re lifting is your own body weight. Well, forearm planks are similar, except instead of lifting your body weight, you’re suspending it.

 

Get in a push-up position but lift yourself up by your forearms and stay there for a minute. It will be one of the hardest exercises you do -- until you try the variations of the forearm plank.

You can work the sides of your abdominal region by supporting your body weight on just one forearm. Put your left forearm on the ground and turn sideways, looking to your right and keeping the side of your left foot planted on the ground. Keep your back straight while suspending yourself. Stay in this position for a minute, if you can. Then do the other side.

 

Again, building up your ab muscles is only half the battle (or a third of the battle, really). Your six-pack abs will never be seen if you don’t burn the fat around those muscles, so work in 20-minute sprint sessions or jump rope interval training to shed that fat.

 

Of course, none of this does any good if you’re not focusing on nutrition as well. You can do all the ab exercises you want, but you won’t get any closer to showing off your six-pack abs if you keep eating fatty foods or too many calories.

 

The pursuit of six-pack abs is like the game of golf with calories being the strokes. You can limit your strokes on the golf course in two ways: through your short game and your long game. You can focus on chipping and putting or driving off the tee, but one without the other is still going to inflate your score. Focus on both and you’ll start shaving strokes. Focus on both exercise and nutrition and you’ll start shaving calories, allowing your six-pack abs to show.

 

Consuming tons of protein will also help. Whey protein is especially best after workouts because it not only feeds your abdominal muscles but helps you burn fat when you’re not working out. Getting enough sleep is also important, as is eating within an hour of waking up. Also, breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day, with lunch next largest and dinner the smallest. Snacking is most important, as smaller meals and more snacking increases your metabolism to burn fat all day.

 

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 19:42

10 ways to enjoy losing weight

Most people think losing weight has to be a drag, but there is a way you can enjoy losing weight and keep it off. You don’t even have to commit an hour per day to exercising, which is another myth about losing weight. You don’t have to join a gym. You don’t have to leave your home. You can even lose weight at the office with some simple changes to your furniture and habits. So here’s how to enjoy losing weight and keep it off.

  1. Get in the Right Mindset

How to enjoy losing weight starts with the proper mindset, as do all things worth doing. You have to really want to lose weight. If you don’t really care to lose weight, you’re more likely to give up after a few weeks or be discouraged when the scale gives bad news. Understanding that sculpting a body comes with peaks and valleys will make losing weight more enjoyable. There will come a time when you “plateau,” and it will seem like you can’t lose anymore weight. The best thing you can do is prepare for the plateau. It’s going to happen. Accept it. If we all lost two pounds per week forever there’d be no weight left to lose eventually.  

Dr. Daliah Wachs says keeping before-and-after photos of yourself can provide motivation to continue pursuing your weight loss goals. She advises to keep the before photo in places you frequent, like the office, the bathroom mirror, in a gym bag or on the refrigerator.

  1. Get to Know your Body

It is imperative to know your body and what you’re putting in it if you’re going to enjoy losing weight. This is a great activity for the first week of your weight loss program. Download the free MyPlate app from Livestrong on your Apple or Android device and start logging everything you eat and drink for a week. This food diary is your first step to losing weight, because eating nutritious meals is more important than exercise. The free version of the MyPlate app logs your calories, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, cholesterol, dietary fiber and sugars, and it will set goals for each given your current weight, height, gender, daily activity and weight loss goals. I’m five-foot, 10-inches, around 185 pounds and a moderately active male looking to lose 1.5 pounds per day.

You’ll immediately notice your problem areas, and if you’re in tune with what you eat currently, you probably already know. I knew my problem was empty carbs. I enjoy craft beers and Animal Crackers dipped in tea, so getting six-pack abs for the first time will obviously require giving up six-packs of microbrews. (I’ll never give up my Animal Crackers. In fact, I’ve given up bread because I’m poor and eat a lot of pasta.) But by monitoring my food intake (I refuse to call it a diet, because it’s not) I know exactly what I should consume throughout the day.

For instance, given my age, height, weight, gender and goals, the MyPlate app sets my daily calorie goal at 1,725 calories and my carbohydrate goal at 173 grams. I was around my calorie goal yesterday (1,783 calories) but way over my carbohydrate goal (248 g). My protein intake was also well below the recommended level of 129 grams per day, which means I’ll be picking up protein powder at GNC today and replacing my breakfast of cold pizza with a protein shake full of fruit. Protein shakes don’t have to be chalky and terrible, either. Here are some delicious recipes that will make you enjoy losing weight. (Hint: cottage cheese is key.)

The MyPlate app also links to the Health app on Apple devices and Google Fit on Android devices, so it will count your steps and calculate your calories burned. It also allows you to track your water consumption. Two-thirds of us don’t drink enough water, and it’s a key to losing weight Wachs informs.

“Drink a glass of water before you eat your meal. That works,” she said, adding later that eating the vegetables of your meal first, which are mostly water, also fulfills your appetite while providing proper nutrition. Wachs thinks this a great tactic to keep kids healthy, too.

  1. Dedicate Yourself to Your Body

While I’m trying to help you enjoy losing weight, there is a lot of dedication involved in achieving your weight loss goals. Your body is the only thing you take to the grave, so you should be dedicated to it. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.

You must continue logging every food you eat, every drink you drink and every rep of exercise you complete. This is your body diary, and it is as important to your physical health as an actual diary is to your mental health. Once you stop logging that information on paper or in the MyPlate app, you’re starting to accept your body as it is. Don’t do that. Every time you don’t want to log a meal or even a beverage, just think of your weight loss goals. Envision your body as you’d like to see it, and pick up your phone or notebook and log that meal or drink. Speaking of drinking...

  1. If You Take a Drink, Drink Liquor

I told you that you’d enjoy losing weight. Even light beers don’t come close to beating the caloric content of most liquors, and the carbs are killers. Jose Cuervo tequila consists of just 96 calories per shot and has no carbohydrates. While Miller Lite also has 96 calories, you have to drink three of them to get the same effect as the shot of tequila. Every 12 ounces of Miller Lite comes with 3.2 grams of carbs, too. If you’re into microbrews like me, giving those up sounds difficult and certainly not enjoyable, but I assure you, you’ll not only shed pounds drinking liquor, you’ll save money, too.

If you’re a whiskey drinker like me, Crown Royal Special Reserve has just 96 calories per serving, as does Pendleton. Most gins and vodkas will also have 96 calories or so. Rum and bourbon will have a few more calories, but are still better for you than beer despite having trace carbs. I suggest you drink all liquor straight, on the rocks or with 100-percent juice. Soda, even diet soda, provides no nutritional value whatsoever. It is literally empty calories and sugar and doesn’t even quench your thirst. That’s why I’ve mostly given it up since 2004, but I’m committed to never letting soda touch another ounce of alcohol for the rest of my life.

  1. Exercise at Work

When your coworkers go out for a 15-minute smoke break, that doesn’t mean you have to keep working. (Oh yeah, if you want to look good quit smoking. It’ll make exercising easier.) While just nine states require rest breaks by law, the 15-minute smoke break happens almost everywhere. Most employers understand that their employees will be more productive if they get away from their desk or work space every few hours.

The best thing about the MyPlate app is that it provides exercises you can do at home, at the office or in the gym, with videos of proper form and even a timer and voice letting you know when to start and stop each exercise.

I did MyPlate’s seven-minute, cardio sculpting workout for the first time, and I can tell you it works. Not only is my body telling me what muscles I haven’t been using enough, but the app says I likely burned 235 calories in just seven minutes.

If you don’t have enough room at work to do the MyPlate exercises, there are still a couple of ways you can burn calories. The simplest thing you can do, whether you sit or stand all day, is work your core muscles. It’s as easy as crunching up your abs and breathing deeply.

Replacing your desk chair with a stability ball makes your entire day a core workout that can burn up to 350 calories. The Varidesk is also a nice contraption because sitting all day is still not good for you, regardless of your seat. The more you can get up and move around during your workday the better, and the more you’ll enjoy your work, too.

  1. Exercise at Home

One of the reasons people don’t enjoy losing weight is the daily trip to the gym, where they’re judged by those around them or, if you’re a woman, hit on incessantly by bros and former frat boys. The internet has totally changed the way people workout, though. More and more fat-burning exercises can be streamed to your television, computer, tablet or phone, either for free or for a nominal fee.

  1. Get Paid to Lose Weight

You can even get paid to meet your fitness goals! Pact pays those who meet their weight loss goals with the money of those who don’t, and HealthWage allows you and a team to collectively work toward weight loss goals. I told you that you could enjoy losing weight. Now you can enjoy the money that comes along with it!

  1. Do More of the Physical Activities You Already Love

I catch just about every home Minnesota Twins game, and I take public transit to get there and do at least one lap around Target Field while I’m there (150 calories burned). If I go out for trivia or a freeroll poker tournament near my home, I ride my bike (650 calories burned per hour). I’m surrounded by lakes in the land of 10,000 lakes, which works out great for me because I love to swim (around 585 calories burned per hour swimming breaststroke, depending on weight). There’s a yoga studio by my house I’m considering joining (between 135 and 550 calories burned per hour plus improved flexibility).

  1. Eat More Lean Meats

Lean meats and seafood have just 45 calories per ounce. Fish has significantly less saturated fat than other meats, though. The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice weekly, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout and herring.

Skinless chicken is also a great way to lower your fat and caloric consumption while keeping protein levels up, so chicken wings are perfectly okay to eat on football Sundays as long as they’re eaten in moderation and prepared without a bunch of hydrogenated oils or butter.

I’m not advocating you stop eating red meat. I could never do it myself, but you should find the leanest cut of beef, pork or lamb available and prepare it without adding oils, butter or salt. In fact, 75 percent of the sodium you consume is already in processed foods or from restaurants. You shouldn’t be adding salt to anything. Most foods come with more than enough salt as it is.

  1. Eat More Salad

Eating salad might not sound enjoyable, but I assure you, a good salad can be a great way to enjoy losing weight. You can’t tell me poached salmon and watercress salad with dill-yogurt dressing doesn’t sound delicious, or that shrimp with feta, radish, watercress and mint salad wouldn’t be delightful. Grilled panzanella with arugula, burrata, summer squash and olives makes me want to eat bread again, and I might make Moroccan lamb salad with carrots and mint when I get off work.

So there’s 10 ways to enjoy losing weight, and hopefully, you enjoy it so much the weight stays off. I’ll be checking in to update you on my pursuit of six-pack abs in the future.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

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