Category: Exercise

Here’s part two of the guest post from my awesome husband Charlie! Go back and check out his first post if you missed it – that will help this one make much more sense. Now, to be completely honest, Charlie basically designed his program himself, so I can’t take too much credit. He did, however, discuss it with me along the way and has ended up selecting (mostly) the type of plan that I would have designed for him anyway. But I’ll tell ya, there’s some truth to the saying that you can’t help your friends or family! He was a little stubborn on a couple of points, but overall a good patient (hehe). Here’s (from the husband’s mouth…er…keyboard) how Charlie picked out the program that works for him:

 

So, I had a few goals of my own, in mind. Here they are:

1. Lose 20 lbs (bringing me down to about 180 or so)
2. Increase my cardiovascular fitness from Excellent to Superior.
3. Improve my flexibility by doing more yoga!
4. Fit back into my wedding pants (they are too tight, now)

Now, like Becki, my own goals are all pretty synergistic. Losing weight happens through diet and exercise – thus, I have to increase my cardio. In doing so, I’ll benefit greatly from stretching, and the net result will be me strutting around in my weddin’ pants again. Of course, there’s the whole getting started thing – which, as anyone who tries to “get into shape” knows, absolutely sucks. I have found that my body roundly rejects any change of routine. At least, it tries its dangdest. And my body and brain will work in cahoots against me.

My Personality: I’m very much a free spirited type. While I will typically groan about routines and planning, the truth is that I just hate making plans – I don’t actually mind following through on them. I love accomplishment and progress, so as long as I stick to my guns, I’ll see results, snowball my motivation and continue to strive toward my ends.

My Lifestyle: Fortunately, being a Firefighter/EMT gives me the opportunity to work out while I’m at work – both in the gym and on the job – so I don’t have a whole lot of excuses to wriggle out of exercising. It also gives me a fairly stable schedule everywhere except at work, where I never know what might happen in a given day. Given that and keeping an eye on my diet with a food tracker and I should be well set!

My true confession: I love being fit and flexible. I love lifting weights and working out. Heck, I even love running. But I also love eating food. And not just any food. I love milk. Sausage. Steak. Pie. Ice Cream. Rich, creamy, sugary foods. Cookies? Yeah, I’ll take 6. Cake? Make it a double. You get the point.

So, while I have already been fairly active in my exercising in the past, I need to intensify it and, more importantly to my health and goals, moderate.

And I don’t wanna. But I’m gonna.

Goal #1: Lose 20 pounds

So, this is the one that takes the longest. It’s the first goal I’ve set but it’ll likely be the last goal I attain, because it’s really a culmination of the efforts I’ll embark on in my next couple of goals.

In order to do this, I plan on exercising for at least an hour 6 times a week and counting calories with MyFitnessPal, which I have used to great success in the past. After asking my fantastic dietitian wife, I will aim for a diet of around 2000 calories a day – which is basically a 500 calorie deficit daily for a man of my age and stature – and based on caloric intakes of 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 25% fats (Note from Becki: This was a compromise – see my comment above about his stubbornness – so don’t take these recommendations and run with them! Everyone’s body is different!).

This sounds complicated, but eating a basic diet of whole foods – milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits, meats and grains – tends to land me within those parameters on a regular basis without any direct effort of my own.

Goal #2 and #3: Cardio/Flexibility

These are the really tough part. I’m embarking on a 90-day workout journey with everyone’s favorite series, the P90X series. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the program, it is essentially a body weight fitness series that focuses on interval/circuit training. It focuses on a muscle group one day, then a cardio routine the next. Rinse and repeat. The first month or so looks something like this:

Day 1 – Chest and back

Day 2 – Plyometrics

Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms

Day 4 – Yoga

Day 5 – Legs and Back

Day 6 – Kenpo Karate

Day 7 – Rest or Stretch video

Repeat and so on. So you’re getting at least an hour a day in, and whether it’s a cardio based day or not, you’ll have a high heart rate regardless, thanks to the pacing. It’s a great routine for slimming down and getting used to using muscles you’ve been ignoring for a while. And I have lots of those.

This program, combined with my other activities, is what I’ll use to lose that weight!

Final Goal: Wear my wedding pants!

This is going to be very vindicating. I have a whole shelf full of pants I haven’t worn in a year – they’re just too tight. So I’ll train and moderate until they fit comfortably.

My Plan

Summed Up:

1. Moderate calorie intake to 2000 calories a day with healthy choices

2. Set aside 1 hour a day for active working out via P90X

3. Stretch properly and try to do a bit of yoga daily

4. Button pants without “sucking it in”.

Here’s to goals and go-gettin’! Thanks!

Exercise

I hope you enjoyed my husband’s guest post. Today, it’s back to me! Today I will show you how I take my goals from ideas to action. As a quick reminder, the goals I set in my previous post were:

  1. Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
  2. Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges
  3. Increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
  4. Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles.

Some really great news about the goals I have set is that goals #1-3 all work together really nicely. All in all, I need to improve my cardio and that is also one of the key parts of a balanced weight-loss plan, so I won’t have to do double-duty on exercise there. Goal #4 is a little different and will involve some specific stretching and targeted strengthening exercises. Before I get into the nitty gritty of how I plan to achieve my goals, I’m going to start by asking myself some of the same questions I ask my clients. These questions help me make appropriate suggestions/decisions about the types of plans that are most likely to work for each individual person. Here are my answers:

My personality: I’m a nerd! Epitome of a type-A personality, I love to organize, have a plan, and make lists. I love structure but I also love variety and I love to have fun!

 



 

My lifestyle: I’m primarily working from home now, which makes cooking and food prep much easier, as well as scheduling in time to exercise. In the past, I have used a food tracker to help me meet nutrition goals but I’m not really feeling like tracking right now. Despite my nerdy, type-A personality, I would like to use something with more flexibility that is a little less labor intensive since I’m focusing a lot of my detail-oriented energy on my business.

My true confession: I ask clients this question to learn what kinds of things they think are likely to be “bad” or that they think might hold them back from their goals. In reality, it’s so I can make sure to find out the foods or exercises they feel very strongly about (for or against!) and make sure to tailor their plan accordingly.

For me? I love chips! A lot. And ice cream.

I also do not care for cardio, in a general sense. I get bored! I need more mental stimulus than a treadmill, elliptical, or jog offers to distract me from thoughts of, “when can I stop doing this????” It doesn’t help that I’m so out of cardio shape now that it hurts to do vigorous cardio. For a cardio plan to work for me, it’s going to have to include fun and variety – lots of variety. And maybe some social interaction. That helps a lot too!

 



 

Goal #1: Lose 7 pounds

This one will obviously take focus on both exercise and nutrition. I’ll discuss exercise more in goals 2-3. I’ll cover nutrition here.

Since I’m not feeling like tracking intakes right now, I’m opting for a more flexible option. My easy-to-use nutrition plan was born after I calculated the recommended amount of calories for a day to lose 1 lb per week, then translated that into portion sizes from each food group for balanced and well-rounded nutrition. That essentially leaves me with a quick-and-easy checklist of portion sizes, like so:

Screenshot (26)

The list is designed to give me extra “slush calories” for treats, condiments, or whatever (like chips and ice cream!) so I don’t have to feel deprived or restricted.

Goals #2-3: Decrease heart rate and blood pressure, Improve cardiovascular fitness

The primary way I’m opting to attack these areas is by working on my cardiovascular endurance, as I happen to know that it is the primary cause of my increased heart rate and blood pressure. With cardiovascular training, you can decrease your resting heart rate, and decrease the work of your heart. Essentially, your heart becomes a stronger and more efficient muscle the more you train it.

IMG_1171
“The” Stairs

Since cardio can be boring for me, I’m keeping my plan open to allow for several different types of cardio including (but not limited to):

  • Cardio dancing videos from Youtube
  • P90X DVDs with my husband
  • Kickboxing DVDs
  • Scottish Highland Dancing (an old pastime I break out every so often)
  • Climbing a mean steep flight of local stairs

I’m going to make my action plan include getting my heart rate to a goal range (115-155 bpm) doing 40-60 minutes of any of the above cardio options 5 days per week. That way, I can choose what I prefer to do that day based on my mood and I’m less likely to be bored or skip.

 



 

Goal #4: Improve posture/target muscle imbalances

For this one, I was fortunate enough to have my dear yoga teacher friend Jessica at Zesa Wellness design a personalized, anti-desk job yoga practice to help me open my chest and hip flexors and strengthen my back. I’m planning to do this practice 5 days per week.

I have also designed a strength training program that targets my the muscles up and down my back. In general, I don’t recommend strength training programs that aren’t balanced (where they only train one muscle group or one side of the body), but this is my one exception. When I know there is already a muscle imbalance, I will sometimes temporarily train the weaker side only for a few weeks to help balance things out before incorporating a more balanced plan that trains the whole body. I’m going to complete this strength training plan twice weekly.

 

My Plan

 

To sum it up, my plan looks like this:

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight

  • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within and get enough food from each food group each day.


Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”

  • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week


Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles

  • Complete yoga practice 5 days per week
  • Complete strength training program 2 days per week

I realize that may sound like a lot to commit to, but remember that I’m working from home and have quite a bit of control over my schedule. That’s one of the strengths of my current lifestyle that I’m taking advantage of with this plan!

Up next: Part 2 of Making My Husband’s Plan!

 



Exercise

You lucky readers! Today’s post is a guest post by my charming husband Charlie! He’ll be giving you the background on how he set his goals. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the read!

Charlie’s Assessment Results:

Charlie

Resting pulse Normal
Resting BP Normal
Body Mass Index Overweight
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Poor
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

 

 

Well, I’m was somewhat surprised by the results of the assessment. While I knew I’d been carrying around an excess of weight, I never think of myself as physically fit or in good cardiovascular shape. I do work out on a regular basis but it’s more of a sporadic schedule – I have not had a specific focus in some time, so I’ve basically just been sampling from the buffet table of exercise – and from the actual buffet table, it seems, based on my numbers. I’m at least 15 lbs overweight at the moment and my flexibility has suffered. My cardio is actually pretty good – but I tend to train that more often than I do anything else.

IMG_0592Charlie’s Story: About 5 years ago, I realized my health might actually be important! I was a truck
driver at the time – working 12+ hours a day, eating terribly, sleeping little and being quite inactive when I was not working. I started having back and knee issues – mostly due to sitting so often and being overweight. So I started working out – slowly at first, building endurance and strength, and increasing as I could. Eventually, I started using the P90x program and watching my food intake, which helped a lot! Once I completed that, I started weight training – heavy squats, deadlifts, bench presses, etc. – compound exercises, mostly. This fixed all my health issues!

Fast forward a few years – during which I began/achieved my quests to become a Firefighter/EMT and a husband – and my diligence in keeping my physical fitness at top level has dwindled. I still work out several times a week, but not with the intensity I used to. Added to that is the fact that I haven’t been regulating my diet in any way for a couple of years. Poor habit + poor habit = poor results. So, time to fix it!

 



 

Charlie’s Other Concerns: I have a history of knee surgeries and issues that I don’t want to exacerbate by ignoring my health. As stated above, I’ve had more issues/pain in my knees as my weight goes up, historically, than when I’m lighter or more active, so I need to keep my weight in check.

While my health is clearly important, equally so is my fitness for my career – and the folks I serve. I have a responsibility to the public to be capable of getting someone out of a burning building! Also, ever tried dragging a charged fire hose through a house? No picnic, that. And, while that, admittedly, is not a particularly frequent event, it’s a possibility. More often, though, I’m helping someone who has fallen and needs assistance or lifting gurneys with sick folks – and that takes strength, flexibility and conditioning, too.

And my pants are more snug than they used to be. That’s annoying. I like my pants. I don’t want to buy new ones.

 



 

Charlie’s End Game: My end game will essentially have me back in “fighting shape” – lighter on my feet, more flexible and with more practical strength than just weightlifting strength. I’ll be able to button my pants without thinking about shopping for a bigger size. And it involves me having more energy, because I’ve taken care of my body and am proactive about nutrition and fitness.

Charlie’s Goals: Of course, as a man, I want to absolutely crush my goals. And I instinctively want to set pretty high standards. So I’m going to do that. Here they are:

  1. Lose 20 lbs (bringing me down to about 180 or so)
  2. Increase my cardiovascular fitness from Excellent to Superior.
  3. Improve my flexibility by doing more yoga!
  4. Fit back into my wedding pants (they are too tight, now)

That covers my main goals. I’ll share my plan when it’s done! Thanks!

 



Exercise Goal Setting

My Assessment Results: In case you missed the last post (or forgot!) I’ll remind you of how my body composition and fitness assessments turned out.

Resting pulse Elevated
Resting BP Elevated
Weight + 7 lbs from my normal
Body Mass Index Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

My body composition overall is pretty good, with the exception that I happen to be up 7 lbs from what is normal for me, and I happen to know that it is not muscle gain.

My muscular endurance and flexibility have hung in there pretty well, but my cardiovascular system is asking for help!

My elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure are showing that my body is having to work harder to move blood throughout my body by beating faster and generating more pressure than it should have to. Definitely an area I want to improve!

 



 

My Story: I’m suffering from desk job-itis!! I have worked at a desk job for the last 2 1/2 years and it has definitely taken its toll! For most of the last 2 years I have made it a point to go for a 30-minute walk at lunch at least 3-4 days per week, but it clearly wasn’t cutting it for keeping my cardio up to snuff. I’ve tossed in yoga and weight lifting along the way, which makes sense in my results, as my muscular endurance and flexibility are still okay.

The last 2 months or so have been particularly bad for my inactivity, because I was still working full-time at my clinic and spending out-of-work hours preparing to open my practice. I made the choice to temporarily prioritize that over my fitness and now that I’m no longer working full-time I’m ready to turn that around.

 



IMG_1127

My other concerns: As part of my desk job-itis, I have developed some postural issues from muscle imbalances. It’s hard to “stand naturally” when posing for a picture of your posture but I tried here.

See how my neck and shoulders tend to roll forward a lot, rounding my upper back? My chest muscles are tight and my upper back muscles are weak from all of my hunching over a computer screen (and phone and books).

The other notable issue with my posture is that, because of the weaknesses in my back, I tend to let my lower back arch forward. The midline of my hips should be further back, nearer to my spine so that my spine is a bit more neutral to protect my back.

On top of this, my hip flexors (the muscles in the front of my hips) are tight from all my sitting and lack of moving, so they are causing my pelvis to tip forward and down. They need some stretching.

These are all things I would like to make goals to address!

 



 

My end game: I often ask clients to describe their “end game” – what are you going for? Describe what life looks like when you’ve met all your health goals. How do you feel? What do you do?

For me, I want to be strong and healthy. Strong enough to push and pull my own body weight and then some. Strong enough to surprise other people, but mostly surprise myself. Capable to protect myself. I want to be healthy in that my lifestyle supports my body in what it needs to function well – nutrition, sleep, movement, and flexibility. I want to be healthy to do my part to prevent risk factors or chronic conditions. I want to be healthy enough to “go out and do.” By that, I mean that no matter what opportunity I’m given, I’m able to take advantage of it and am not held back because of my lack of health, lack of strength, or lack of endurance.

 



 

My Goals

Using the information above, I have created the following goals:

  1. Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
  2. Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges
  3. Increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
  4. Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles.

In part 2, I’ll show you how I turn these long-term goals into a plan!

 



 

 

Exercise Goal Setting

Alright, folks…a couple of days ago I ran my husband and myself through my Body Composition and Fitness Assessments to help us create our wellness goals for the new year. We have both put on a few over the Christmas season between less exercise (me) and more treats (him). We both are ready to see where we’re at, get on a plan, and meet some goals! The assessments we did include:

Body Composition

  • Body mass index
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis for body fat/lean mass
  • Skinfold caliper assessment of body fat (for comparison)
  • Waist & hip circumference
  • Upper arm & forearm circumference
  • Thigh & calf circumference
  • Waist-to-hip ratio

Fitness Assessment

  • Cardiovascular fitness assessment (submaximal step test for estimated VO2max)
  • Muscle endurance assessment (push-ups and curl-ups)
  • Flexibility assessment (sit-and-reach box)

 



 

With his permission, I’m posting the assessments of our results here. We each completed everything, with the exception of the skinfold calipers. I can’t complete that assessment on myself, so I left those out of my assessment. For Charlie’s, I averaged his BIA and his skinfold caliper results. I also included measurements of resting vital signs like pulse and blood pressure. Since he is a firefighter, he was able to take my vital signs. Here’s how we each made out compared to recommendations:

 

Becki

Charlie

Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +15 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Normal Overweight (note here: husband lifts weights, so his muscle mass drives this number up, but he does also like Christmas cookies…a lot)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Poor
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Excellent
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Good

Check back to see how we take these results and turn them into goals, then turn those goals into a plan!

 



Exercise

dsc_1572Since my new practice, i’mPowered Nutrition & Fitness, is offering a $20 discount on my Goal-Getter package to help you meet your New Year’s goals, my next project is going to be something a little different. Both my husband and I are going to show you what the Goal-Getter package is all about by laying out our own nutrition and fitness goals and documenting our journeys to goal-get them! Alright, alright…enough punning.

Husband and I will start off with the body composition and fitness assessments to test where we are at now, then use those results to create goals. Based on those goals and our individual personalities/lifestyles, I’ll make a nutrition and training plan — i’mPowered-style — and we’ll follow it. You’ll get to watch the journey!

Stay tuned for the results of our “before” assessments!

 



Diets Exercise Goal Setting

Many recommendations have come out in recent years discussing the benefits of avoiding long periods of sitting. For those of us who work at a desk, that can be tough! While working, it can be difficult to 1) remember to get up, 2) realize how much time has passed since you got up, or 3) get up at all, depending on what your job is!

To help with this conundrum – I tracked down two apps designed to promote movement while I was on my carb counting stent (people with diabetes are recommended to get up and move for 3 minutes out of every 30!). Check out my assessment of these apps:


Move – Daily Activity to Stay Healthy
(free from the Apple app store)

This one allows you to customize the frequency with which you want to be reminded to exercise, as well as the time frame in which you want reminders (like 8 am to 5 pm, for example). The app sends you an encouraging and/or Jillian Michaels-like reminder (“Don’t you dare think about skipping this one!” or “Come on, no excuses!”) to get up and move on the schedule you set. The app contains a list of exercise suggestions that you can tailor to your preferences. If you choose to do the exercise it suggests, you click a button that says “I did it!” and it will tack it onto an ongoing list of the exercises you have completed that day, complete with estimated calories burned. If you don’t want reminders on certain days, you can skip them for a day.

  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable exercises/schedule, exercise suggestions, accumulating list of exercises throughout the day is motivating.
  • Cons: Reminders could be a little less cheesy/condescending, several of the exercises would not be discreet in certain office settings (think jumping jacks and side-lying leg lifts – they have an “Office” exercise pack you can purchase that is supposed to remedy this).

Overall: I enjoyed this app – I liked that it gave suggestions for exercises because, even as an exercise physiologist, I do better with direction. Particularly when I’m in the middle of the work day – I don’t have to come up with exercises on my own!

Stand Up! The Work Break Timer (free from the Apple app store)

This app also allows you to customize it with a daily schedule and frequency of reminders. You can skip days as needed. On schedule, the app pops up a reminder that states, “Time to stand up. We want you to live longer!” If you go to the app at that time, you can select between options to skip that particular reminder or to acknowledge that you got up, which the app will track.

  • Pros: Easy to use, customizable schedule, tracks the number of times  and when you get up throughout the day.
  • Cons: Reminder is the same every time, no exercise suggestions.

Overall: It worked. I enjoyed the other app more, but they both will get the job done!

Exercise Wellness Tips