Getting Back on Track after a Setback

By Chrissy MacDonald

Have you ever had a setback in your plan to be healthy, fit and happy?

Maybe you vowed to cut back on drinking or to quit smoking or stop eating junk food. Maybe you started an exercise program as a New Year’s Resolution but it’s fallen by the wayside. Or maybe your dream of losing 10 pounds by Spring somehow fizzled.

We all want to be healthy and happy. It’s good to strive to be a kind and loving person who doesn’t gossip or waste precious time on useless activities.

We do our best but it’s too easy to fall back into old habits. But when we do, the important thing is to just get back on track.

Every day I plan to do these things: write, practice Yoga, walk the dog, read the Bible, meditate. I also try to be calm and content and positive and live in the present moment. Cleaning the house, making meals and getting groceries, stuff like that, is a given. They must be done. And with this little Vizsla puppy, I need to get outside for a walk to give her exercise. So that gets me outside too. As for the other things, I admit they don’t always get done every single day. But I try. And every day, I try again.

We falter, do things we regret and we omit important things from our lives. But when that happens, we need to forgive ourselves for making a mistake or giving up or not doing something we promised ourselves we’d do.

We need to love ourselves and carry on. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

If you make a mistake, if exercising gets sidetracked or you smoke that first cigarette after going weeks without, remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Re-focus. Pick yourself up and continue on your journey.

Have a beautiful day!

“We have two lives—the one we learn with and the life we live after that.”
Bernard Malamud

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13 Tips for Strength Training with Weights or Tubing

By Chrissy MacDonald

Strength training, or resistance training, will tighten a flabby body and help create a lean and firm physique. It will also strengthen muscles and bones and can help performance in sports. Resistance training is an important part of a complete fitness program.

Resistance training can be done using weights or tubing or your own body weight as in push ups and pull ups. Practicing Yoga is also a great way to get the benefits but, in this post, we’ll focus on using weights and resistance tubing.

Keep in mind, these are guidelines. Before beginning any new exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor if you have health concerns.

  1. Learn the proper form and technique for the exercises. Paying for even one a session with a qualified personal trainer is a good idea to get a program and learn proper technique.
  2. Include an exercise for each of the major muscle groups. You don’t need to do several different exercises for the same muscle group.
  3. Warm up your body for five to ten minutes with an activity such as walking before beginning your weight training session.
  4. Use good posture. Keep the abdomen contracted and spine in good alignment, chest wide and shoulders relaxed.
  5. Start with a lighter weight and focus first on strengthening the joints so they will be prepared to handle increasing intensity over time. Many people get started on a program and end up quitting because of sore elbows, shoulders or knees. Don’t be in a hurry to use heavy weights. You will see results with a consistent and well planned program.
  6. Move the weight slowly. It should take about three seconds to lift the weight and two to three seconds to lower it. By going too fast, you may be using momentum and not getting the full benefit of the exercise.
  7. Do eight to ten repetitions of each exercise. If you cannot do eight repetitions slowly and with good form, the weight is too heavy. If you can do more than 12 with perfect technique, increase the weight by 5%.
  8. A set is a group of repetitions. Start with one set and add a second set after two or three sessions.
  9. Reassess your program every two or three weeks. Challenge the muscles by increasing the weight gradually for best results. Sticking with the same weight for too long will not give you much benefit.
  10. Generally, breathe out on the exertion although the main rule about breathing is to keep breathing. Don’t hold your breath.
  11. Allow 48 hours before you train the same muscle groups again. Muscles need time to repair since resistance training is actually tearing down muscle fibers. Resting muscles will give you better results and help prevent injury.
  12. Listen to your body. If you feel pain during an exercise, stop and reassess your form or the amount of weight you are using. A few sore muscles the next day means you’ve challenged your body but this soreness should go away after a couple of days.
  13. Spend about five to ten minutes after your session stretching to help keep muscles from getting tight.A total body weight training program for general fitness can be completed in about 20 to 30 minutes twice a week.

Be consistent, don’t do too much too fast and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful, strong and lean body. Happy training!

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Can You Make Yourself Healthier and Happier?

By Chrissy MacDonald

Many health problems, pain and unhappiness can be helped (not necessarily alleviated altogether, but often helped) with regular exercise, a healthy diet and effective stress management techniques.

How do you feel? Do you have any of these issues: Lower back pain; sore neck; stiff joints – hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, bad knees or ankles; arthritis; osteoporosis; high blood pressure; diabetes; high cholesterol; constipation or bloating? Are you overweight, overtired, overstressed or depressed?

Why do we sometimes put up with ill-health, pain and unhappiness when a few simple steps can help?

Sometimes I wake up a bit cranky and down (yes, it’s true!). For some reason I tend to focus on the negative when I first get up. It takes a while for me to get going. After breakfast I feel better. Then I go for a walk with my little Vizsla puppy, Indi. Today it was a beautiful spring morning. A bit of morning exercise, fresh air and sunshine made a big difference to my state of mind. It felt good to walk and move my body.

Do you feel as good as you would like to?  What could you do to feel better? If you sit all day at a computer, there are exercises you can do to help your sore neck, aching back and tired wrists. Don’t slouch at your desk, get up every half hour and walk around for a break. Do figure eight motions with your wrists to keep the muscles from getting sore and stiff. Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles often throughout the day: Do shoulder shrugs. Turn your head from side to side, then up and down. This will help the neck and shoulders from becoming stiff.

If your hips are getting stiff, make sure they get movement all around the joint, not just forward and backward as in walking. This will help increase circulation and may help prevent future problems. Sit cross legged on the floor more often.

Oftentimes our health can be improved with simple awareness. Good health is often a choice we make. Poor lifestyle habits can contribute to ill-health. What would make you feel better right now? What is one small change you can make today to help yourself? Sometimes it’s just a matter of identifying the problem and then finding a way to help it.

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