Wednesday, 03 October 2018 17:39

Musicians are Athletes Playing Sports On Stage

Musicians are athletes. They have talents that can’t be coached but must be practiced to reach their potential. They are expected to perform at the highest level both in practice (in the studio) and in games (on stage in front of thousands of paying customers) despite grueling travel and publicity schedules. And they both exert energy performing with no guarantee of success.

Musicians’ success ultimately depends on their ability to play, which, like athletes, is dependent upon their health. And while musicians’ careers might not be as short as athletes’ careers on average, they’re equally dependent upon talents that inevitably diminish with age. But what are the sports musicians play on stage when it comes to comparable caloric exertion? That all depends on the genre of music they're playing and how they're playing it.

The Research

My research started with 28 musical performances in 27 days, beginning with Earth, Wind & Fire at the Minnesota State Fair on Aug. 26. From there I flew to Las Vegas for Mariah Carey at Caesars Palace on Sept. 5. A week after returning to Minnesota, I was headed to Chicago for Riot Fest, featuring a three-day lineup spanning almost every musical genre over the last 70 years.

The late 1950s rockabilly and ’60s rock & roll of pianist Jerry Lee Lewis gave way to metal/punk pianist and professional partier Andrew W.K. Fittingly, Elvis Costello and the Imposters played songs from the new wave he helped build and Blondie brought ashore to the states throughout the 1970s, riding the wave to the top of the charts in both the U.S. and U.K. in 1980 with a cover of The Paragons’ “The Tide is High.”

Blondie also served as a reminder that the political, electronic punk group Pussy Riot has Debbie Harry to thank for not only popularizing female punk voices but feminism as a whole. And while Bad Religion wasn’t the first band to get political with their lyrics in the 1980s, their popularity certainly made it a staple of the punk genre, paving the way for acts like Pussy Riot to draw attention to political corruption with their music. Pussy Riot did just that at Riot Fest, calling for justice after a longtime member and activist with the group was poisoned, perhaps for uncovering information regarding the deaths of three Russian journalists with whom he’d been working.

The ’90s were well represented by Lagwagon and Face to Face, and although Blink-182 had to cancel for health reasons, the lineup somehow got better with the additions of Weezer, Run the Jewels, and Taking Back Sunday. Blink’s absence didn’t mean pop punk of the ’90s would go unheard at Riot Fest Chicago 2018. Alkaline Trio announced their presence with a fantastic set just before Incubus reenacted the heydays of alternative rock that started in the late ’90s and continued into the new millennium.

If you thought Riot Fest was a punk rock festival, you’d be surprised to know that hip-hop acts have played the festival in consecutive years. The best performance of 2017 was provided by Prophets of Rage, a rap rock supergroup consisting of members from Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill. The performance unified very different genres and, as a result, very different people, but was especially emotional coming just months after Audioslave’s lead singer, Chris Cornell, committed suicide. Cypress Hill’s B-Real must have enjoyed the emotional and genre-defying performance he gave with Prophets in 2017, because he was back playing “Hits from the Bong” with Cypress Hill in 2018. Run the Jewels concluded the festival’s final day just as Prophets of Rage did the year before.

Cypress Hill might be playing the only sport for which cannabis is a performance-enhancing drug, but that doesn’t mean what they’re doing on stage (and off) isn’t athletic. Exactly how athletic is difficult to determine without primary research. Ideally, I would have slapped a Fitbit on the wrist of each musician before going on stage. Instead, we’ll have to rely on estimates of caloric exertion provided by sources I felt to be most reputable and accurate based on my own calorie counting. So what sports are some of music’s best athletes playing on stage?

Mariah Carey is the Babe Ruth of Popular Singing

Mariah Carey’s body might be enhanced in a Bondsian fashion, but her voice is Ruthian; it might be replaced with a recording on occasion, but never enhanced, only amplified. Mariah is the Babe Ruth of popular music for a lot of reasons, but mostly because she has done and continues to do something no one else in her sport has.

The greatest athletes of all time separate themselves from their peers by being the only athlete in their sport to do something. Mariah has sung a G7 (a G-note in the seventh octave), which no other singer of popular music has done. She regularly reaches F#7 in concert (F-sharp, seventh octave), lifting people to their feet and putting smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. I can personally attest to this, but I can only imagine men cried when Ruth allegedly pointed to the center field bleachers and then hit a homer there in what was a tied Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.

Barry Bonds hitting more home runs than Ruth, regardless of cleanliness, is as irrelevant to the greatest-baseball-player-of-all-time argument as Ruth’s all-time best 182.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over his career because only Ruth has been both the best hitter and pitcher in his league over the course of a single season (so far).

Had there been an American League Cy Young Award in 1916, Ruth would have won it, but not by the margin he would have won the Most Valuable Player Award had there been one in 1920 (he hit 35 more home runs than runner-up George Sisler) and eventually did win in 1923 despite sharing the home run crown with Cy Williams (he reached base in more than half of his plate appearances and got all eight first-place votes).

While a 28-year-old Walter Johnson led the AL in wins (25), complete games (36) and innings pitched (369.2) in 1916, Ruth was the league’s best pitcher by any measure—new (Ruth had a league-best ERA+ of 158) or old (Ruth led the league with nine shutouts to Johnson’s three and allowed the fewest hits per nine innings pitched in the AL). And while Johnson's Senators finished last, Ruth led Boston to the American League Pennant (and, eventually, a World Series Championship) with 23 wins in a league-leading 40 starts and four other appearances accounting for more than 23 percent of his team’s innings pitched during the regular season (323.2, third-most in the AL). Two years later Ruth led Major League Baseball with 11 home runs along with Tillie Walker, but did so with almost 100 fewer at-bats. It was the last time Ruth would have more wins (13) than homers in a single season.

Using strictly vocal range as a means to determine popular music’s best singer would be like using batting average to determine baseball’s best hitter—it doesn’t tell the whole story. Ruth only led the league in batting average once, and his .342 career average is just tenth-best all time. Axl Rose might have the largest vocal range in the sport of popular singing, but the lowest note he sang (F1) is just one note lower than Barry White's lowest (F#1, or F-sharp, first octave). Mariah’s highest note is seven notes higher than that of her closest competitor.

Longevity matters in GOAT debates too, and Rose didn’t retain his vocal range for nearly as long as Mariah has. The one thing only Rose has done in the sport is so closely contested its baseball equivalent would be Roger Maris breaking Ruth’s single-season, home run record in the last game of the 1961 season, which was 10 games longer than Ruth’s in 1927, but resulted in Maris getting just seven more plate appearances than Ruth had to hit 60. Mariah is the GOAT because, at some point in her long career (like right now), she’s been both the sport’s best hitter of notes (vocal range) and best “pitcher” (highest or lowest pitch sung), and has done so convincingly and simultaneously.

Mariah’s relative dominance of her sport isn’t the only similarity she shares with Ruth. While Mariah isn’t “The Mariah” like Ruth was “The Babe,” her fans refer to her using only her first name with the assumption that absolutely everyone knows which Mariah is the Mariah. And like the Sultan of Swat, who went by his “stage” name of Babe over his given name, George, Mariah has earned a lot of nicknames, including “The Voice” and “Songbird.” So the relative fandom of musicians is also comparable to that of athletes.  

Mariah is beloved by her fans like The Babe was by kids. They defend her unconditionally because she is other-worldly in their eyes and ears. Any comparison to Whitney Houston is met with ruthless rebuffing comparable only to that of Michael Jordan fans fending off LeBron James comparisons as if they’re attacks on their religion or right to free speech. Ruth’s dominance of his sport allowed him to enjoy a long leash when it came to his off-field behavior, and the same goes for divas. There won’t be another Mariah, and there won’t be another Ruth—only imitators and imposters.

But Mariah isn’t popular enough to be the Michael Jordan of popular music, and she’s not burning comparable calories on stage as a basketball player does on the court. Few musicians are. Mariah Carey is playing baseball on stage, and she’s probably working harder than Ruth did playing the outfield, but not as hard as he did as a pitcher and hitter early in his career. Early in her career, though, her on-stage caloric exertion might have been closer to the caloric exertion of Ruth the pitcher/hitter.

If Livestrong’s estimates are accurate, Mariah singing while standing for an hour burns around 140 calories assuming a weight of 150 pounds. Healthy Celeb has her at around 148, which is reasonable given her five-foot, eight-inch height. Since she’s walking around the stage and doing so in heels, she’s probably burning another 200 calories per hour even if she’s lip-syncing. So that’s 340 calories burned per hour singing and moving around the stage (and crowd, which she did in Vegas), but we’re not considering her four plate appearances per game.

Mariah’s plate appearances are her wardrobe changes, each of which she knocked out of the park simply by being a knockout (thank you, gastric sleeve surgery). Mariah had four wardrobe changes during her Las Vegas show, all completed in three minutes or so, and while I’m sure she has plenty of help backstage, she’s still burning calories just as Ruth would even without swinging the bat. She might not burn a home-run-trot’s worth of calories changing clothes, but even The Great Bambino had a “courtesy runner” round the bases for him on home runs late in his career.

If we use an average of 3.5 minutes per wardrobe change given Mariah’s height, weight, and age, she likely burned another 20 calories or more changing clothes. And I think that’s a low estimate given her elevated heart rate going into the wardrobe change and the pressure of quickly completing the change. Keep in mind this estimate represents the caloric exertion associated with dressing and undressing with no stakes or complicated outfits. Still, that’s a total of 360 calories burned per hour on stage.

A non-pitching, non-catching fielder burns roughly 1,000 calories during a nine-inning baseball game. Another source estimates caloric exertion of non-pitchers and non-catchers at 305 calories per hour. An average game is over three hours long, so Mariah’s caloric exertion per hour on stage is comparable to that of a baseball player who isn’t pitching or catching. And her talent, longevity, and dominance of her sport is comparable to that of baseball’s best player.

Earth, Wind & Fire is the 1990s Chicago Bulls of Popular Music

Sinbad said prior to the Earth, Wind & Fire concert that I was in for a religious experience. He was absolutely right, but I didn’t think there would be so much movement on stage given the average age of the band members. I figured Philip Bailey’s voice would have regressed at the age of 67; I was wrong. I couldn’t imagine bassist Verdine White moving as much as he did at 67, and longtime percussionist/vocalist Ralph Johnson, also 67, didn’t miss a beat or note. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, and I can only imagine had I ever seen the Bulls of the ’90s, I would have cried tears of joy at United Center just like I did at the Minnesota State Fair.

Earth, Wind & Fire has as many Grammys as the 1990s Bulls have championship rings (6), and like the greatest NBA dynasties, still has a big three in Bailey, White, and Johnson. Even Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman/Horace Grant. Earth, Wind & Fire not only has a big three, but nearly as many touring members as an NBA team (9). And they likely burned comparable calories as the Bulls roster on any given night.

Johnson alone likely burned more than 300 calories in an hour of drumming. White’s bass playing and dancing given his slenderness likely resulted in excess of 250 calories burned per hour, and we know singers around Bailey’s size burn around 180 calories per hour if their standing while singing. So the three remaining original members of Earth, Wind & Fire likely burned 730 calories in an hour.

Add the horn section with saxophonist, Gary Bias (217 calories per hour), trumpet player, Bobby Burns Jr. (273), and trombone player, Reggie Young (180), and total caloric exertion comes to 1,400. Two guitarists (217 calories burned per hour each) brings the total to 1,834 calories burned per hour, and background vocalists Philip Bailey Jr. and B. David Whitworth push the caloric exertion total to 2,134. Myron McKinley on keyboards (181) pushes Earth, Wind & Fire’s collective caloric exertion to 2,315 calories per hour. In the hour-and-a-half-long set at the Minnesota State Fair, the band probably burned close to 3,500 calories.

In comparison, if Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman played 40 minutes at their listed weights on Basketball Reference (1,523 calories burned), Toni Kukoc, Luc Longley, and Ron Harper played 30 minutes at their listed weights (1,200 calories burned), that would leave Steve Kerr 20 minutes (220) and Randy Brown 10 minutes of playing time (118). The 1997-98 Chicago Bulls would collectively burn around 3,061 calories per 48 minutes on the floor, or a bit more than 3,800 calories per hour. The vast difference in mass between members of Earth, Wind & Fire and the Chicago Bulls (Longley was listed at 265 pounds) could account for much of the difference in calories burned per hour.

Andrew W.K. is the Wayne Gretzky of Party Music

No one enjoyed sharing the puck more than The Great One, and no one enjoys sharing a party more than Andrew W.K. Party music is a broad genre and pretty much includes anything played with pace. And while Andrew W.K.’s success in his sport isn’t comparable to that of The Great One in his, there isn’t a single act out there that screams hockey like Andrew’s. Andrew W.K. shows are both pace-full and probably painful for Andrew, but he leaves it all on the stage (even blood sometimes) every night.

The first thing you’ll notice about Andrew W.K. when you see him live for the first time is his teeth. He has the biggest smile of anyone I’ve ever seen play music—so big, in fact, I thought he was high on cocaine. Now I know it’s the crowd that’s his addiction. I’ve never seen anyone happier doing their job than Andrew W.K., except maybe Wayne Gretzky after assisting a teammate on a goal. Gretzky loved assisting his teammates so much he has more assists than anyone else has points scored, and Andrew W.K. looks to simply assist the party-starting despite his early passion being fashion

We know playing piano burns around 181 calories per hour depending on size, but no one plays piano like Andrew W.K. The only person who did hasn’t kicked the bench out from under himself for quite some time. In fact, it took Jerry Lee Lewis almost five minutes to change jackets onstage after his band played for 15 minutes awaiting his arrival, but he’s 82 years old!

Assuming Andrew burns just 200 calories an hour playing piano and another 180 calories singing given his size (he’s a big man and wrote about working out for Vice amongst other things), that’s 380 calories per hour burned on stage. But Andrew W.K. moves about the stage more and more violently than Mariah Carey or Philip Bailey, so this estimate is more than safe given his hour-long, Riot Fest set.

Time on ice statistics are only available going back to the 1998-99 season, during which Gretzky averaged about 21 minutes per game. But that was his final season, so using playoff numbers might be a better representation of actual calories burned per game in his prime. In the 1993 Conference Finals Game 7 he played close to 24 minutes, and in the 1984 Stanley Cup Final Game 5 he played 23. Livestrong estimates caloric exertion for a 190-pound hockey player to be 700 calories per hour.

So in 22 minutes, Gretzky would burn a little more than 250 calories, but Livestrong notes that the intensity of hockey as an activity allows for calories to be burned well after coming off the ice. Kind of like Mariah Carey’s stressful, high-heart-rate costume changes, hockey’s shift changes results in hockey players continuing to burn calories even while resting. One study found that 10 men who completed an intense, 45-minute workout on a stationary bike burned an additional 190 calories in the 14 hours following the workout. So Gretzky and his linemates burning an additional 80 calories between shifts is reasonable, making The Great One’s total exertion 330 calories per game.

So I think I’ve at least proven that musicians (and singers are musicians because our voices are instruments) burn comparable calories performing on stage as athletes do playing sports, fulfilling the energy exertion requirement of athletes. Whether a musician’s talent and amount of practice required to perfect and preserve that talent is on the same level as professional athletes require more in-depth, accurate research. But if you aren’t considering the performance of your favorite band as an athletic endeavor, you might consider considering it.  

Honorable Mentions:

Pink Floyd is the 1956-66 Boston Celtics' Starting Five of Rock

The greatest rock band of all time last toured in 1994 with three original members and eight supporting members. That's enough people to match the caloric exertion of the best Boston Celtics teams. Although Pink Floyd was without their Bill Russell (Roger Waters), they still had a Bob Cousy (David Gilmour), a Tom Heinsohn (Nick Mason), and a Bill Sharman (Richard Wright). Waters returned for a reunion performance in 2005.

Pussy Riot is the 1952-60 Montreal Canadiens of Electronic Punk

Regardless of the lack of competition Pussy Riot has in its genre, they've dominated that genre for about as long as the Canadiens did the National Hockey League from 1952 to 1960, winning the Stanley Cup six times and finishing runners-up twice more. Pussy Riot's 11 members probably do enough dancing on stage to match the caloric exertion of the Canadiens of the '50s, too.

Run the Jewels is the LeBron James of Hip Hop

I know Run the Jewels consists of two people—El P and Killer Mike—but it takes at least two people to match what LeBron does on and off the court. Run the Jewels is not only as successful at selling records as LeBron is tickets, but all three of the group's records are critically acclaimed, like LeBron's off-court efforts.

Published in Entertainment

Ugh. Level 3 of the Runtastic Six Pack App gave me my first wake up call during my pursuit of six-pack abs that started in January of this year and was slowed by a broken foot shortly after. Going from Level 2 to Level 3 on the Runtastic Six Pack App is like going from a comfortable, at-home workout to a blood-sweat-and-tears workout worthy of a Rocky montage.

I knew MyPlate’s 10-minute abs workout wasn’t cutting it, and since purchasing my Fitbit Alta, I’ve tried stacking the MyPlate workouts, doing three in one sitting, combining the MyPlate workout with Fitbit Coach workouts, and lately, I’ve strictly completed my training plan on the Runtastic Six Pack app. Upon reaching Level 3 of the Runtastic Six Pack app training plan, I can confidently say that it is the best workout regimen for those in pursuit of six-pack abs.

Level 3 Hurts

I must have been in pretty good shape considering how easily I completed the Runtastic Six Pack app’s workouts at Levels 1 and 2. After completing 30 days of workouts increasing in difficulty, I entered Level 3 with confidence. All that confidence was undermined by Day 1 of my Level 3 training, but only by one exercise in the workout.

I completed three sets of scissor kicks without pausing or adding 30 seconds of recovery time in between sets. Even tabletop crunches came relatively easily, although I added 30 seconds of recovery time between sets two and three. I really felt my abs burning after this exercise, and that burn intensified during scissor legs, which required me to pause about halfway through each set and add 30 seconds of recovery time between sets.

Then I was taken aback by my personal trainer demanding three sets of 26 mountain climbers, but not your typical mountain climbers. Every mountain climber I know plants their foot to climb the mountain, but the Runtastic Six Pack app calls for you to suspend your front foot in midair to increase the difficulty of the exercise by reducing your balance, working your core even harder than the typical mountain climber. By the end of the workout there wasn’t a dry section of my t-shirt left for sweat, and the workout that had taken me 25 minutes or less to complete took 37 minutes at Level 3.

Level 3 Gets Easier, then Harder

By Day 5 of my Level 3 training regimen, I was back down to completing my workout in 27 minutes. I had cut out a considerable amount of recovery time between sets and was pausing my workout less and less. The harder exercises were coming more easily, and then Runtastic changed it up.

The change-up was actually easier for me than the first week of Level 3 training. Three of the four exercises were some variation of crunches, and crunches seem to be much easier for me than any plank exercises. That’s likely a result of me “cheating” myself of slow, controlled repetitions.

Plank exercises demand a controlled completion by design. The plank position is not one in which you can complete any movement very quickly. Crunches, however, can be completed quickly and form can go ignored at times, especially when you’re exhausted. Well, the pace at which I completed my crunches didn’t do me any favors when Runtastic changed up Level 3 again.

Day 11 of Level 3 training included three plank exercises and two types of crunches. This was the day I thought the app was broken or at least limited by its design. Day 11 of Level 3 training includes two sets of Thread the Needles going both to the right and left, but instead of alternating the sets and going to the right and then the left, the workout calls for two sets to the right then two more to the left. I found this to be painful for my forearms and elbows having to support my upper body weight in consecutive sets and felt I'd be better served alternating between right and left. I never did alternate the sets as to complete the training as indicated, but I asked Runtastic blog writer Hana Medvesek if this was a limitation of the app or included by design to work the same muscle groups consecutively, pain be damned. A reply was not provided as of this writing.

Runtastic Six Pack App Thread the Needle Left Part 1

Breaking up the right and left exercises would require the app to play different videos between sets, requiring a more complex design. But while alternating thread the needle exercises might be more comfortable for elbows and forearms, it might not have the same effect as working the same muscle groups consecutively. My suggestion would be to put some sort of padding under your forearm to ease the pain if you don’t have spongy carpet or a yoga mat.

The Second Half of Level 3 Tests Your Resolve

The 30-second recovery time between sets is cut in half on Day 16 of Level 3 training in the Runtastic Six Pack app, and the exercises are harder, too. As I was approaching the end of the Runtastic Six Pack app’s training regimen, I must admit I dreaded doing my workout. What was once a 25-minute workout had ballooned to a 47-minute workout that actually resulted in blood and sweat but no tears – just moans and groans from intense pain. The plank knee-to-elbow crunch exercises resulted in rug burns that made it difficult to complete workouts in consecutive days.

I actually took two days between workouts come Day 16 of Level 3 training because I was sore from my knees to my chest for two days. Obviously, cheating myself of slow, controlled completion of exercises had taken its toll. I was pausing regularly during sets and adding 30 seconds of recovery time between sets, especially for the plank knee-to-elbow crunch exercises.

By the third day of completing these exercises, though, I was down to adding the 30 seconds of recovery time solely after the second set of each exercise and between each set of the plank knee-to-elbow crunches. I had shortened my completion time from 47 minutes to 40 minutes, and was really starting to notice results.

Level 3 is not the End of the Game

Upon completion of workouts in the second half of Level 3, I could actually feel the definition of my six-pack abs with my hands when massaging my abs. I couldn’t see much more than a two-pack, but I could tell my goal of six-pack abs only required a bit more cardiovascular work to be realized.

According to the Runtastic Six Pack app’s body fat visualization, my 10-percent body fat should be low enough for my six-pack abs to be visible, and I’m confident they will be upon completion of Level 3 training on the Runtastic Six Pack app, and I’ll continue completing Level 3 workouts to make sure my six-pack abs remain defined and visible.


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

Achieving and maintaining good health is as easy as following the Golden Rule and Ten Commandments for good health. 

The Golden Rule

Do unto your body as you’d like your body to do unto you.

You are only capable of what your body allows, and your body allows only what you allow it. If you want to avoid illness or injury, you must give your body what it needs to do so. You must stretch and maintain flexibility to avoid ligament and tendon injuries. You must consume vitamins and minerals to avoid illness. You must consume protein to build muscle and protect your bones and organs. You must rest your body to remain alert. Give your body what it needs, and it will reward you with good health.

The Ten Commandments

1. Thine body is a temple. Thou shalt not worship any bodies but thine.

The only thing you take with you to the grave is your body, and you only get one of them. You must take care of it as you would a home, or better yet, a place of worship. Don’t just keep a clean home; keep a temple with spotless, stained-glass windows.

And you shouldn’t try to imitate anyone else’s body because your body is unique. Your body might not be meant to emulate any other. I was obsessed with obtaining the “Rocky body” for years. I figured if Sylvester Stallone could put over 200 pounds on a five-foot, ten-inch frame, so could I. Well, lower back problems made it difficult for me to carry the upper body weight necessary to achieve the 200-pound goal, so I slimmed down to my high school weight of 150 pounds and focused on my core strength to accommodate my lower back.

Know your body’s capabilities and incapabilities, and accommodate it. If you have bad feet, ankles, knees or suffer from chronic back pain like me, don’t carry around a lot of upper-body weight.

2. Thou shalt not take thine body for granted.

You only get one, so don’t abuse it. Even if you work your way back from years of abuse, whether that be from overeating or a poor diet, lack of exercise, or drug or alcohol abuse, your body won’t be the same after that abuse. That doesn’t mean you can’t still be in the best shape of your life at advanced ages, but think of your body like the picture of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s seminal novel. Your body, like the picture, displays the “sins” of your days, so to age gracefully, you must have discipline.

3. Thou shalt not consume more calories than thou burns.

Regardless of your exercise regimen, if you want to maintain your weight, you mustn’t consume more calories than you burn in any day, except...

4. Remember the cheat day and keep it weekly.

Keeping a weekly cheat day on which you consume just a few more calories than you burn keeps your metabolism high in order to burn more calories while sedentary and sleeping. It will also help satisfy your urges to consume those not-so-healthy foods.

5. Honor fitness and nutrition.

Good health is not achievable without honoring both fitness and nutrition. You must move regularly and eat a healthy diet, not one or the other.

6. Thou shalt not skip breakfast.

People who don’t eat breakfast are starving their bodies of calories when they’re needed most. Breakfast means breaking your fast. Your body has gone seven hours or more without being fed, yet has been burning calories all that time. Your body nor your brain can function at optimal levels without breakfast.

7. Thou shall exercise 30 minutes per day.

The magic number for activity is 30 minutes per day. If you can just stay on your feet and moving for half an hour per day, you’re body and brain will benefit.

8. Thou shalt not rob thy body of snacks.

Instead of eating three, large meals per day, eat one big meal at breakfast, a bit smaller meal for lunch and even smaller dinner, filling in the gaps with healthy, fulfilling snacks like fruits, vegetables and nuts (if you’re not allergic). If half of your calories per day come from snacks and the other half from meals, you’ll be spreading your calorie consumption out to allow your body to optimally use those calories instead of storing them.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s diet.

If your body feels good, you should feel good about your diet -- enough so that you don’t envy what others eat. Your diet should also allow you to enjoy things others enjoy, and a focus on consuming smaller servings of sweets or salty carbs to satisfy any urges. Attempting to eliminate any and all vices is impossible and dangerous, so instead of consuming carbohydrates, replace those calories with fats. Fat is the preferred fuel for human metabolism anyway.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s sleep schedule.

If you’re tired you should sleep. Naps are incredibly invigorating, so if you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep per night, or work an erratic schedule, take naps to get seven or more hours of sleep per day.


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

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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