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!

13 Simple and Healthy Recipe Substitutions

By Chrissy MacDonald

Most of us eat the same meals all the time. Some food choices may be healthier than others. Whether your goal is to lose weight or simply to eat healthier, making simple changes to your favorite standby recipes can add up.

Meals can be made lower in fat, salt and calories without sacrificing taste. Here are a few ideas I’ve tried:

  1. Use skim milk or 1 % milk instead of 2 % milk in any recipe for the same amount of vitamins and minerals without the fat.
  1. Plain yogurt can be used in place of sour cream in casseroles and dips. I love plain Greek yogurt for everything. It’s thick, rich and high in protein.
  1. For tuna or egg sandwiches or any pasta dish, use half mayonnaise and half plain yogurt. Real Hellman’s mayonnaise is tastier than low fat versions. Adding yogurt helps cut back the fat without losing flavor.
  1. Make tomato-based casseroles instead of creamed.
  1. Instead of salt, try substituting herbs, spices, Dijon mustard or Jalapeno peppers.
  1. Instead of sour cream on baked potatoes, try salsa or yogurt and chives.
  1. Instead of store-bought salad dressings, make your own with red wine or balsamic vinegar, honey or maple syrup, olive oil and herbs.
  1. Saute onions and mushrooms in vegetable broth instead of butter.
  1. Make your own vegetable broth with ends of vegetables and scraps and freeze for use later. Store-bought broths are usually loaded with salt.
  1. Try honey or apple juice to sweeten muffins instead of white sugar.
  1. Use grated firm tofu and grated cheese for casserole topping.
  1. Instead of ice cream and high fat desserts, try plain Greek yogurt sweetened with fruit and honey or maple syrup.
  1. Choose recipes that call for baking, roasting, broiling or grilling. Avoid frying and deep frying.

Before you prepare a meal, look at the ingredients listed in the recipe and see if you can substitute a healthier alternative. Try to make even one healthy change to every meal to make it lower in salt, fat and calories but just as delicious.

How to Lose Weight Forever – No more fad diets, potions and gimmicks

By Chrissy MacDonald

If you want to lose weight, don’t go on another diet.

Crash diets, fad diets and diets that claim miraculous results are not the answer to permanent weight loss. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? If you want to lose weight for good you must think like the tortoise. I know this is probably not what you want to hear. We all want instant results. But that’s why the diet industry is booming. Everyone wants it now.

Repeated crash dieting that restricts calories will slow down your metabolism. When your metabolism is slow, it’s harder to lose weight permanently. It’s a vicious cycle. One diet seems to work for a while making you think the diet was successful. And then the weight comes back. So then it’s on to another diet.

High protein diets, low carbohydrate diets, low fat diets – they can all be dangerous. A diet that cuts back essential nutrients can be hard on your body. Just because someone wrote a book about it or appeared on television, doesn’t mean it’s safe or effective.

Here’s the truth: one pound equals 3,500 calories. Most people need between 1700 to 3,000 calories per day depending on activity level and body composition. It’s impossible to lose ten pounds in a week as some diets claim. Weight loss of more than two pounds per week is most likely water and/or lean muscle mass. And body fat is what you want to get rid of.

If you want to lose weight, don’t starve yourself. Just change your approach away from so-called miracle diets and toward healthy eating and physical activity.

Try this: Write down what you normally eat on a typical day. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much food you’re putting into your body. Those calories add up fast.

Plan to write down your food intake for a while. I write down everything I eat and the exercise I do every day. It’s a great way to stay on track.

Cut back on saturated fat (from animal products), sugar and salt. Cut back on processed foods and junk foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables (include a variety of colors). Eat whole grains instead of white flour.

Start exercising if you aren’t already. Combine cardiovascular exercise (activity that raises your heart rate like walking fast, running and swimming) and strengthening exercises (moves like pushups and crunches and Yoga that challenge muscles). Both of these are important for good health.

There is no big secret to weight loss. Stay away from miraculous claims, potions and concoctions. Eat healthier foods and write down what you eat for a while. Exercise your body. Everything will fall into place naturally. You will lose weight, feel better, have more energy, be healthier and look great. Remember, the tortoise won the race.

In my next post: How much and what type of exercise should you do?