Archive for November, 2014

Holiday Workouts and Diets

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYWell, once again the holiday season has descended upon us . . . let the chaos begin! No matter how much we try to stay calm and collected, we get caught up in the craziness. Just trying to keep your sanity is a challenge, much less your workout routine. And your diet? Well, most of us completely give up on that.

I’m not going to tell you that I have some magic answer to keep you perfectly on track with your diet and exercise program. What I am going to tell you is that it is OK not to be perfect during the holiday season. I want to remind you that life is not always black or white; often there is a large gray area. Try to put your exercise and diet routine into that gray area during this time of year. Take a little time to mentally prepare yourself that you are going to get out of your routine over the next several weeks. That doesn’t mean that your routine has to be completely abandoned, or that you cannot return to your routine once the madness has stopped. Just being prepared for what is to come is a big help. There are also a few tips I can give you to try and help you find that gray area.

First, remember that the commodity that you are short on most during this time of year is time. Unfortunately, no one has figured out how to put a few more hours in a day, so you have to use the 24 you have wisely. Giving yourself permission to shorten your normal exercise routine is a great way to “go gray.” Instead of skipping your normal walk that takes you an hour, give yourself permission to take a more intense 20 minute walk instead. Also, if you are a walker, you might want to do that walk in your street clothes, instead of taking the time to change into workout clothes. Walking for just 20 minutes outside in the cold won’t cause you to sweat enough that you would have to change clothes. If you are a runner, a 20-minute hard run 2 or 3 times a week will help you maintain your fitness level through the holidays. True, you do not burn as many calories walking or running only 20 minutes as compared to 60, but you can stay in shape and not completely fall out of your cardiovascular routine. It is much easier to just increase your workout time in January than it is to start from scratch after a six-week layoff.

Shortening your workout routine can work for strength training too. If you work with a trainer, try to keep your appointments, but let them know that you might need to accelerate the workout and get out in less time than normal. A good trainer can cut your routine time by 25% without sacrificing quality. They can cut the workout time by 50%, if necessary, but they will have to eliminate some exercises. They should know what can afford to be cut for a few weeks without decreasing your overall strength level too much.

If you work out on your own, you may want to give yourself permission to only do exercises for your large muscles (back, chest and legs) and skip your small muscles (shoulder, biceps and triceps). I do not recommend skipping your abdominal exercises, but they can be done anytime—just before bed or after you get in from a walk or run are good choices.

The main message for your workout program is that “something is better than nothing.” You will not just maintain the fitness you have worked so hard to build throughout the year, but you will feel better mentally. Every time you complete even the smallest workout you will feel a sense of accomplishment. This good feeling promotes the release of endorphins, which can improve your ability to handle stress, and we all know we can use all the help we can get this time of year with stress management.

Now, on to our diet. I know it sounds impossible, but you can make it through this season without putting on the average 7-12 pounds that most Americans do. How? Find the gray area!

It’s the same principle that you use for maintaining your workouts. Mentally prepare yourself and give yourself permission. It is a fact that you will be out of your normal eating routine. Prepare for it. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making a promise not to deviate from your diet at all. This is a promise that you cannot keep. Give yourself permission to deviate, but in a controlled manner. Never go to the holiday cocktail party telling yourself that you will only drink water and not eat anything “bad.” Give yourself permission, but in a controlled manner. For example, tell yourself that you will have 2 drinks, but ones only made with non-caloric mixers (soda or water), and that you can eat whatever goodies you can fit on one cocktail napkin. Not that this has to be everyone’s plan, but you get the point. Give yourself some reasonable boundaries that won’t leave you feeling so deprived that you wind up eating a bag of cookies when you get home. FIND THE GRAY!

These are just a few suggestions, and they certainly are not written in stone as “the” only way. What I want you to realize is that you can go through the holidays and not get to January and have to completely start over. The key is planning and accepting the realities of what lies ahead. I believe you can do this. Good luck and warm wishes.

The Pain of Inactivity

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

by Sheila Kalas, personal trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

Sheila Kalas, owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington KYMost of us have experienced the overwhelming desire to stay in bed after the alarm goes off, especially if it’s a Monday morning. But most of us, very quickly, connect the dots and realize that if we don’t get out of bed and get going, there will be serious consequences. Whether it’s work or family obligations, we realize that we don’t have the option of just lying around day after day doing nothing. We get up and accept the responsibility of performing the tasks that are not necessarily pleasant all of the time, but are necessary for our lives to run smoothly. We go to work, take out the trash, brush our teeth, do our laundry, feed ourselves, etc.

However, this “connect the dots” scenario does not seem to work when it comes to dealing with the personal responsibility of exercise. When it comes to exercise, most people rationalize that doing nothing feels better. They do not connect the dots that show that regular inactivity is what leads to a low level of energy, poor health, and growing waistlines. It is much easier to blame life for these unpleasant things instead of blaming the choices you make.

As an exercise professional, one of my most important jobs is to help my clients learn to feel lousy when they don’t exercise. It may sound strange, but they must learn this if there is any hope of them becoming a regular, self-motivated exerciser. They have to connect the dots that it is inactivity that hurts their health and is painful to their body, not exercise.

It is a fact that exercise does cause mild, temporary discomfort. You do notice it when you are exercising; it does feel different than lying on the couch. This feeling is a major deterrent to most people. As motivational speaker Tony Robbins indicates, avoidance of pain is a stronger motivator than the seeking of pleasure. This is why people let the pain and discomfort of exercise rule their choices when it comes to working out. They rationalize that NOT going to the gym makes them feel better at that moment. Yet the very discomfort they want to avoid is going to be multiplied before they know it.

Accepting the personal responsibility that it is you and only you that holds yourself back and keeps you from engaging in a healthy lifestyle is the most important key to unlocking the door to better health. Once you accept this responsibility (which people hate to do), you can begin to move forward.

Helping you get to this place of acceptance is one of the primary roles of a good personal trainer. If you are working with a trainer and you don’t feel like they are helping you accept your role in your exercise program, but instead are just leading you around by the nose, telling you what to do without any explanation of why it is important, then you might be working with the wrong trainer.

You have to do more than “just do it”; you have to understand WHY you are doing it and WHAT is it that is happening inside your body while you are doing it. I firmly believe that the more a person knows and understands about the exercise they are doing, the more likely they are to continue doing it.

An uneducated, uninformed person will soon quit their exercise program. Humans do not engage in things for no reason—there has to be some benefit, some reason to continue. A good trainer should provide you this information.

This a perfect time of the year to sit down and re-evaluate your life, in regards to exercise and health. Take a look at yourself. Is inactivity prevalent in your life? If so, do you realize the consequences of this?

If you are exercising, do you feel good about your program?

Do you think it is giving you what you need to progress through the rest of your life in the healthiest way possible?

Do you feel engaged and connected with your exercise program?

Do you understand your exercise program? Or are you just going through the motions?

Look at yourself, your life, your motivations and rationalizations. Take stock and responsibility in your own life, your own health. Accept the fact that it is you who are in control of how you take care of yourself and your body. Remember that it is inactivity that’s painful, not exercise.

If you feel that you are not where you need to be in regards to an exercise program, then get going! Take the responsibility to get this very important part of your life up and running. Take charge of your health and wellness. It’s a great feeling.

Check out the bios of our Fitness Plus personal trainers and feel free to call us at 859.269.9280.