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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Healthy New Year Tips

Did you know it is not possible to tone/sculpt muscles? I was thinking about this yesterday when I did my Denise Austin Pilates DVD. I still think it's a great workout but she is a complete moron. I almost threw my waterbottle at the t.v. screen. She blabs throughout the whole thing about losing inches and toning particular muscle groups. I have already mentioned that Pilates is not what you should be doing if you want to lose inches (i.e. decrease body fat), but it is really disgraceful that she is helping to propogate so many misconceptions about fitness.

In order to get that "toned/sculpted" muscle definition most of us strive for (i.e. Linda Hamilton/Madonna arms), you need to have no excess body fat and some degree of muscle hypertrophy. For most of us this requires a strict diet, regular cardiovascular activity and strength training. If you have any pounds to lose, you will not get that look, nor are you likely to get it if you are just skinny (i.e. do cardio but no serious strength training). Denise Austin is obviously an idiot because Pilates does not burn fat nor does it require enough resistance to increase the size of muscle fibres (hypertrophy). That is why it is so popular with dancers, etc. It is great for improving functional fitness, core strength and posture without building any "bulk". So forget about "toning" with Pilates, yoga or 2 lb weights. If you want to look sculpted, you gotta get serious about diet and training (i.e. Look at how bodybuilders eat/exercise). Here are a few more tips to improve your health and wellness in 2011:

Try a New Physical Activity
Make your fitness goal for 2011 to try a new activity you have been too chicken to try before. I want to try indoor rock climbing and/or crossfit. There are so many options these days and you don't need to find a gym. How about snowshoeing or cross-country skiing? These are two incredible cardiovascular activities. We used to go skiing as a family a lot when I was a kid and I am hoping Adam and I can take the girls when they are older.

Try a New Healthy Snack
I have finally reached the point of being sick of carrots. I have eaten one (or a million) too many. But they are so healthy, cheap and easy so when I was looking for a replacement, it had to be affordable (since I am a student), portable and easy to munch on while working at my desk. I spotted roasted chestnuts in my local grocery store and was curious. I tried them today and loved them! And a 100g bag has just 190 calories along with 5g of protein and some vitamin C. Yum! Next time you go to the grocery store, look for something new to try to satisfy your snack cravings.

Try a New Side Dish
Instead of white potatoes, try some other root veggies. You can puree celery root and prepare it like mashed potatoes or try roasting squash, turnips or parsnips. These veggies are cheap and nutritious and available all year round.

Try Using Your Car Less
Think your office, grocery store or gym is too far to walk? Why not give it a try and you might discover it doesn't take as long as you think. You'll end up doing both your body and the environment a favour.

Spend More Time with the People Who Make You Feel Good and Less With Those Who Don't
We all have those toxic people in our life who we know are not good for our well-being but we can't seem to get rid of for whatever reason. Come on, life is too short. Besides, it will give you more time to focus on those people in your life who mean the most to you.

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