How Do You Choose A Fitness Training Program?


Many people choose training programs by default.

They sign up for the gym, because that’s what they’ve been told will help them manage their weight, or help them to feel better physically. After a few weeks, they’re bored, or just plain dread going there a few times a week, so they make excuses and stop showing up.

The key to choosing what you want to do in caring for your body is to understand what you need before committing to something, that just doesn’t suit you.

If you actually love what you do for fitness, it doesn’t become a burden or something you just do to burn calories. It becomes part of your life and lifestyle.

How do you get clear on what would work for you?

Here are a few ways to set you in the right direction:

The first items to explore are what your goal is in having a fitness routine?

Is it to lose weight, gain strength, flexibility, have aerobic fitness, build muscles, eat what you want or something else? Write down what your reasons are for wanting a workout program. Be clear about your ongoing and ultimate goal. Separate the goal from all the fears around you not being able to sustain your choice in programs.

Once you have the goal in mind…

The second item is to look at how this would be best accomplished.

Look in and out of the gym for activities, and write down all the options available to achieve your goal.

The third item is to ask yourself how much time you want to give, what activities from this list sound fun, what type of environment suits your personality and how much structure you need to stick with the program?

This question is important, in being honest with your self-evaluation you will know your interests. There is no reason to do something you don’t like, there are so many options available that you are bound to find a routine that will feel good to you. When you choose exercise, which fits your lifestyle and seems fun to you, it is much easier to stick to and frankly, even if it is not a 90 minute Zumba class, it’s better than starting something and quitting after a few weeks.

Fourth on this list is to try the routine out.

Go do some of the activities that interest you, see how they feel. Do you enjoy the experience and could you do this often? Can it fit in your lifestyle? Really get clear on what you personally enjoy, for some of us we want an experience that would give us our ‘alone’ time and for others of us, we want to be part of a group or a class.

Figure out what feels right and start incorporating it into your life regularly. It is much easier to stay committed to something we enjoy and that gives us the benefit of working toward our goals. 




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How Good Is Hiking For You?


Hiking is inexpensive and easy to start, so you can participate no matter what your current fitness level is now. It can help you to lose weight and build a healthier body.

“Hiking is a wonderful way not only to participate in aerobic exercise, but also to clear your head,” says board-certified family physician Ray Sahelian, MD, who not only recommends hiking to his patients but also practices what he preaches by hiking regularly in the mountains near his Southern California home.

Hiking works almost every part of your body: from your ankles on up to your hips and butt for the lower extremities and your arms, stomach, back and shoulders for your upper body.

Texas allergist William Howland, MD says, “I’m just a guy who likes to be outdoors; hiking offers benefits for both the mind and body.”

Hiking offers psychological benefits as well, say Sahelian and Howland. “There’s a feeling of relaxation and enhanced well-being that comes on after a few-mile hike in the woods,” says Sahelian.

So what can hiking do for your body? According to an article in the Huffington Post, hitting the trail works out your body as much as it does your brain. Just one hour of trekking can burn well over 500 calories, depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying. Hiking is a great way to get a serious workout without putting too much pressure on your joints. “Trails are often softer on joints than asphalt or concrete,” Caroline Stedman, a seasonal Park Ranger at northern Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, says, “So I find myself feeling less stiff and creaky after a hike than a jog down a sidewalk.”

Hiking also helps elevate your high-density lipoprotein levels and lower your triglyceride levels. This reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It also can help with controlling Diabetes and effecting the actual prevention of this disease. Other health benefits in a variety of studies have shown it lowers cancer risk, increases bone density (it’s not just an aerobic exercise–it’s weight bearing too), and alleviates insomnia.

So lace up your hiking shoes and hit a trail near you for some mood and heart elevating fun!

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What Does Clean Eating Mean to Dietitians?


Twelve experts share their takes.

By Melinda Johnson

As a college professor, I hear about diet trends fairly early and often. Many of my students love the idea of “eating clean,” but I find that most of them struggle to define what it actually means. Indeed, “clean eating” is a term that has no official definition, leaving it wide open for interpretation. Some of my colleagues dislike the term and avoid using it, because it implies that this way of eating is somehow more virtuous, or that some food is “dirty” (and therefore, bad). Dietitian Marsha Hudnall, who is president and co-owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run – a healthy weight loss retreat in Vermont – explains that her hesitation to use the term is because it ultimately sets a lot of people up for unrealistic expectations about eating. She finds that the term encourages an all-or-nothing kind of thinking about food, and sometimes even contributes to an overall fear of food, which stands in the way of being healthy.

Still, the idea of eating clean is a powerful one for many people, and some dietitians do embrace “clean eating” on their own terms. Here is how 12 different registered dietitians define it:

“Since there is no scientific consensus on the definition of clean eating, I define a clean eater as someone whose diet consists of 80 to 90 percent whole foods, 80 to 90 percent cooking and preparing their foods from scratch, using minimally-processed foods and including superfoods in their diets.” –Manuel Villacorte, MS, RD, author of “Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet”

“Clean eating is about exploring and enjoying the amazing flavors our foods inherently offer. Authentic, traditional dishes with their signature flavors from herbs, spices and cooking techniques are a great example of clean eating that has been around for generations.” – Jennifer Ignacio, MS, RD, Nutrition Communications Manager for the Compass Group North America

“When I think of clean eating, I think of Sankofa. The African word and symbol Sankofa translates as ‘to go back and take.’ The symbol of a bird arching its neck to take an egg from its back symbolizes one taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present. Clean eating aims to do just that, promoting positive progress in health by reaching back to a time when we ate more wholesome, minimally processed foods.” Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, author of The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes

“Clean eating = eating foods where nothing healthful has been taken away, and nothing harmful has been added.” – Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of “The Superfood Swap”

“Clean eating simply means eating with micronutrient and macronutrient goals in mind, with as much variety as possible, without restrictions. It’s not an extreme dieting technique; it’s a way of improving your eating habits so you are not over-consuming foods heavily processed and stripped of nutrients.” – Jim White, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios, Virginia Beach

“Clean eating is when I can see all of the ingredients I am eating. For example, a lunch of grilled salmon over salad with lots of veggies as opposed to a bowl of processed macaroni and cheese where I can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label. Clean eating means the least processed fresh food that focuses on a rainbow of colors from fruits and vegetables, not from a cereal box.” – Jayne Newmark, MS, RDN, owner of Newmark Nutrition, LLC, Phoenix, Arizona

“It’s is my mantra, my go-to safety net. To me, clean eating means eating food I know will benefit my health, mind and body. It’s not all vegetables, whole grains, fruit and lean protein; sometimes it includes a small piece of chocolate or a glass of wine, when I have balanced it out with physical activity. It’s a state of mind and a way of life to remain as positive and as proactive as I can about my health as I approach … 60.” – Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, Author of “The Doctor’s Detox Diet: the Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription”

“For packaged foods, I consider a product to be ‘clean’ if I can look at the ingredient list and know I could have purchased all of the ingredients and made it myself in my own kitchen, but I didn’t have to because someone made it for me.”- Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD and author of “Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast”

“Clean eating is focused on reading labels to make sure there are fewer ingredients; but the best clean foods come with only one ingredient – and many have no labels: leafy green vegetables, berries, citrus fruit, tomatoes, nuts, seeds, wheat berries, oats, lentils, chickpeas and more.” – Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life

“Maybe I’m old fashioned and fact oriented, but I think the most important definition of ‘clean eating’ should be for foods chosen and prepared to minimize the threat of food-borne illness. For example, wash fresh produce, clean cutting boards to avoid cross contamination and cook raw meats to proper internal temperature. That’s clean eating.” – Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD and author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook”

“Clean eating is buying, preparing, cooking and enjoying food that is both nutritious and delicious. Balancing food groups and never restricting. Life is too short and food too delicious!” – Ximena Jimenez, MS, RD, consultant dietitian in Miami

“Clean eating is about power washing your diet, to strip away the clutter and enjoy the clean taste of a crispy apple, a juicy tomato or nutty brown rice.” – Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, Director of Sports Nutrition at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine

Originally published:

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Exercise Outside For Added Benefits!

There’s a benefit to any exercise you do.

If you certain activities outside, you can compound some of those healthful benefits. According to a past article in the New York Times, “outdoor exercise tends to be more strenuous than the indoor version.” This of course doesn’t apply to all forms of exercise, but more so to those, with origins that began outside the gym doors.

Running. When you run outside you flex your ankles more, than when you run on a treadmill. On indoor equipment there’s really nothing, which mimics running downhill. Running up, down or on level ground utilizes your muscles differently and if the terrain varies, say you take a trail, run on asphalt or grass, your energy demands are greater too.

Bicycling. There’s no wind in a gym, so the drag you get from the wind outdoors can give you a heartier workout than riding the same distance on a stationary bike. This means you will burn more calories and gain more fitness.

Walking. Being outdoors is more enjoyable to most people. In some psychological tests, individuals scored quite a bit higher in self esteem and in the areas of having more enthusiasm, and pleasure. They also scored lower for stress, depression and fatigue after taking a stroll outside.

So in addition to your fitness regime, you may want to consider taking your aerobic exercise outside, when it suits you.

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How to Keep a Workout Routine.


Most people who love to exercise have discipline, but they also practice giving themselves a bit of space. Their commitment to exercise is a lifestyle, but at the same time, they allow some slack in case of any obstacles they may face in getting to the gym at times.

If people are rigid with their fitness, they have a limit they come up against and burn out. The same thing with a strict diet, sooner or later the urge to cheat takes over and may destroy all the hard work.

The best thing to do is have a fitness plan and keep it moderate; it’s about making it work over the course of a lifetime, not just the short term.

Individuals can give themselves a certain number of days they want to workout a week.  For optimal results, they should commit to somewhere between 3-6 times a week. If they show up most weeks for their committed workouts, but miss a workout here or there, their world doesn’t fall apart.

It’s getting back in the saddle on the next one. Keeping fitness simple and manageable in the scope of one’s life, makes it easier to continue doing in the long run.



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