As a dietitian and as someone who enjoys socializing over cocktails, I believe that you don’t have to give up alcohol just because you are trying to lose weight. This is supported by research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found that light to moderate drinkers actually gain less weight over time than teetotalers, and they also have a lower chance of becoming overweight or obese.
I know this from experience working with my clients who consistently lose weight without abstaining from alcohol. Instead of asking them to cut out alcohol, I help them learn to drink a bit smarter by avoiding unnecessary calories.
Lighten your usual drink
It’s easy to order a less caloric version of your usual drink. For example, have vodka, tequila or other spirits with zero-calorie club soda and a splash of juice instead of an 80 calorie cup of tonic. For nearly the same calories, you can relax over two rum and Diet Cokes or have one specialty cocktail, such as a cosmopolitan.
Make yours a spritzer
Do like the Europeans and have a wine spritzer (half wine, half club soda) that’s refreshing and waist-friendly at about 50 calories a glass.
Beware of mixed drinks
A single margarita or other sugary cocktails can pack anywhere from 450 – 600 calories! Opt instead for tequila with a splash of juice and a wedge of lime, or order a drink made with light vodka in your favorite flavor mixed with zero-calorie soda water.
Sip wine and spirits
Your best bet for low-cal drinking is wine and spirits, because these contain about 90 calories per drink.
If you plan to have only one drink, order one that you will linger over. For example, a martini is practically straight liquor, but shaken with ice and an aromatic splash of vermouth, it is a reasonable 160 calories per 2.5-ounce glass. If you expect to have more than one cocktail, try alternating with a glass of water or seltzer with a wedge of lemon or lime.
It’s nice when life is uncomplicated and you can spend 30 minutes to an hour working out, but sometimes your schedule intervenes and you have only 10 minutes to spare for a quick workout. No problem. You can get benefits in even this short amount of time by doing a special type a Tabata workout – but get ready to sweat!
The Magic of Tabata Training
Tabata is a style of training developed by Dr. Tabata, the head coach for a Japanese speed skating team. Little did Coach Tabata know that his super-short, high-intensity workout would be adopted by runners, bodybuilders and circuit trainers alike. What makes this method of training so popular? It’s short but effective. In fact, a full Tabata cycle lasts only 4 minutes, but some people cycle through two or three times as time permits.
How much benefit can you get in only 4 minutes? A lot according to this study. One group of athletes did an hour’s worth of moderate-intensity cardio on an exercise bike 5 days a week. Another group worked out 4 minutes a day using the Tabata protocol 4 days of the week. Surprisingly, the Tabata group experienced greater improvement in their V02 max than the group that did moderate-intensity cardio. Plus, they improved their anaerobic capacity as well, whereas the moderate-intensity exercises didn’t. The results speak for themselves.
Tabata Workouts: The World’s Shortest?
When you add in a 5 minute warm-up and a 2 minute cool-down, you can complete a full Tabata cycle in 11 minutes. Time permitting, you can do 2 or 3 Tabata cycles before cooling down and congratulating yourself on getting an intense, aerobic and anaerobic workout.
How does it work? After warming up, do 20 seconds of exercise (active phase) and rest for 10 seconds (recovery phase). Then repeat this for 8 cycles for a total of 4 minutes. You can do the same exercise for each active interval or alternate between several exercises. There’s really no restriction on the types of exercises you can do. You can even do “Tabatas” using a piece of equipment like an elliptical machine or treadmill.
Some exercises you can do during the active intervals that require no equipment are burpees, jumping jacks, jump squats, mountain climbers, push-ups or skater’s, to name a few. You can choose all cardiovascular or plyometric exercises or alternate plyometric moves with a strength moves. For the most cardiovascular benefits, stick with strength moves that use large muscle groups.
The Challenge of Tabata Intervals
Don’t equate short with easy. To get the most benefits from a Tabata workout, you need to push yourself hard during the active intervals. Keep in mind, 10 seconds of recovery isn’t a lot. It’s just enough to make it possible for you to do the next active interval. If you’ve done mostly moderate-intensity cardio, you’ll likely find this workout to be considerably more challenging. That’s because it taps into your anaerobic energy system, and moderate-intensity cardio doesn’t improve that.
There are benefits to “going anaerobic.” Unlike moderate-intensity cardiovascular, you’ll accumulate an oxygen debt, meaning you’ll burn more calories after your workout, the so-called “after-burn” effect.
To get the full benefits, you’ll need to push yourself to about a “9” level on the perceived exertion chart, although you should only work out at that intensity if you’re healthy and have already achieved a high fitness level. It’s also important to do a full warm-up since you’ll be pushing your body hard.
The Bottom Line?
No time is no excuse for not getting a workout. Even if you have only 11 minutes to spare, you can improve your anaerobic and aerobic capacity and get a nice after-burn that bumps up your metabolism for hours afterwards. Plus, there’s nothing that feels better than pushing your body this hard and feeling the endorphin rush after you’ve finished.
Tabata intervals are the perfect solution for time-pressed days when you only have moments to spare for working out. They’re also a good way to challenge your body differently when you’ve stopped seeing results with your regular routine. For a little variety, do a Tabata workout once or twice a week and see if it doesn’t shake up your routine.
If you are feeling stressed/tense from Sandy, the election and/or today’s pending storm, give yourself 15-20 minutes and go into Shavasana. Shavasana is perhaps the most important part of yoga practice and is usually done in Corpse Pose (see pic). Lying on the back, the arms and legs are spread at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep. The whole body is relaxed onto the floor with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath. All parts of the body are scanned for muscular tension of any kind, which is consciously released as it is found, optionally with a small repetitive movement of the area. All control of the breath, the mind, and the body is then released for the duration of the posture.
The posture is released by slowly deepening the breath, flexing the fingers and toes, reaching the arms above the head, stretching the whole body, exhaling, bringing the knees to the chest and rolling over to the side in a fetal position. After a short time and a slow inhalation, the practitioner takes a seated position.
Shavasana or corpse pose is intended to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Furthermore, the physiological benefits of deep relaxation are numerous and include:
a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration.
a decrease in blood pressure.
a decrease in muscle tension.
a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen.
a reduction in general anxiety.
a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks.
an increase in energy levels and in general productivity.
an improvement in concentration and in memory.
an increase in focus.
a decrease in fatigue, coupled with deeper and sounder sleep.
You already know that exercise gives you toned thighs and beautiful biceps, but can it do good things for your skin too? Exercise has definite skin benefits, but there are some precautions you should take when you exercise to keep your skin healthy.
Exercise Increases Blood Flow to the Skin
When you exercise your heart rate rises and blood flow increases. This sends more oxygen and nutrients to your skin. According to dermatologist Ellen Marmu M.D, a dermatology professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, it also transports waste products, free radicals and debris away from your skin. This can make the skin look and feel healthier.
If you’ve ever had a steam facial, you’ve probably noticed that your skin glows afterwards. Exercise does the same thing. It increases blood flow and gives your skin a glow that lasts for hours. Who needs a facial when you can work up a sweat exercising and benefit your heart, lungs, muscles and skin at the same time?
Exercise May Benefit Some Skin Conditions
Some skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo are worsened by stress, and exercise is a natural stress reliever. One precaution. Exercise can exacerbate some skin conditions short-term. This is especially true of people who have a skin condition called rosacea.
People with rosacea are prone towards flushing, skin redness, red skin bumps and visible blood vessels on the surface of their skin. Exercise can trigger the symptoms of rosacea in some people. To avoid aggravating rosacea, work out in a moderate temperature environment and split your workout into several shorter intervals to reduce overheating. Exercise with no makeup on, and drink plenty of water.
Exercise can also trigger acne outbreaks in some people short-term because of the sweat factor. If you have acne, exercise in a cool environment and cleanse your skin immediately afterwards.
Some Skincare Precautions When You Exercise
It’s nice to get the natural glow that exercise brings but not if it comes from sun exposure. If you run or work out outdoors wear a waterproof sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays with a SPF of at least 30. Fit your workout in before 9:00 A.M. or after 4:00 P.M. when you’ll get less intense UV exposure. If you work out indoors, apply a light moisturizer but avoid wearing makeup. This is a chance for your skin to “breathe.”
When you exercise avoid tight-fitting clothing. When you wear tight clothing, especially clothing made of synthetic fabrics, you increase your risk of developing a condition called acne mechanica. These are acne-like breakouts that come from heat and the friction of tight clothing rubbing against the skin. Choose light, loose-fitting cotton fabrics or moisture-wicking fabrics when you exercise.
Intense exercise increases the production of free radicals. Free radical production can damage collagen and elastin fibers that give skin its youthful appearance. To counter these effects, add more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet such as fresh fruits and vegetables and increase the amount of vitamin C in your diet to help ward off the effect of exercise-induced free radicals.
The Bottom Line?
Exercise not only buffs up your body, it can improve the appearance of your skin as well. To get the benefits of exercise without the risks, wear a sunscreen when you exercise outdoors, choose loose clothing and add more foods rich in antioxidants to your diet.
For more great exercise tips, please contact our Fitness Director/AFAA Certified Personal Trainer & Group Exercise Instructor, Noëlle Lusardi, at email@example.com.
We are very excited to announce YOGA FLOW with Alyssia Saporito at Step Ahead!!
When: Every Tuesday evening from 5:30-6:30; and 6:30-7:30 (beginning June 26)
What is YOGA FLOW?: Yoga Flow or a Vinyasa Flow style, links movement with breath while practicing safe alignment. “The beauty of yoga is that each pose really encompasses a little bit of everything; strength, balance, and flexibility, says instructor Alyssia Saporito. “In each class we'll move through warrior sequences for strength, work on balance with poses like tree and lunges, and stretch with poses like downward facing dog and forward folds. We'll release tensions with gentle back bends and twists and end each class in savasana, a nice final relaxation.” This class is perfect for all fitness levels and people who are new to Yoga!
Alyssia has been a student of yoga for four years and started teaching a year ago. In May of 2012, she completed her 200 hour training certificate at the Yoga Loft in Bethlehem, PA. There she studied various forms of yoga, anatomy, pranayama, and philosophy and continued her studies with workshops and classes.
“I have a love and passion for yoga because of all the physical and emotional benefits it provides. Yoga means "to come together", and in our practice we unite body, mind, and breath. This union allows us to truly be in the present moment and to focus on ourselves. I teach a yoga flow class linking movement with breath while practicing safe alignment. You'll feel strength, flexibility, and balance build throughout the sequences. Every pose can be modified to fit your body to receive the most benefit. All you have to do is come just as you are.”
For more information on Yoga or any of our fitness programs/classes, please contact our fitness director, Noelle Lusardi, at Noelle@stepaheadwellnesscenter.com or call 908-470-2235!
One more year is coming to a close, the pads come out and the resolutions begin. January is actually the busiest time in the fitness and gym industry. February and March are probably the quietest with most people having given up on the weight loss and fitness effort…well until the bikini time comes around again. Setting New Year’s weight loss resolutions is no different than setting other goals. Your goals need to S.M.A.R.T, in other words: Simple-Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timely, but most importantly you need to have the desire and willpower to work hard towards your targets. In this article we share 7 tips for setting your New Year’s resolutions in such a way so they are achievable and realistic.
1. SET LIFE GOALS
Instead of making a resolution list of the things you want to do make a list of the things you want to have and/or achieve in your life. For example a resolution list of the things you want to do could look like this:
Resolution List 2012
1. Lose weight
2. Join the gym
3. Change my job
Instead think ‘what do I want to have in my life’? For example:
Life Resolution List 2012
1. Look good and feel healthier
2. Be happier in my job
3. Be less stressed
Then think how you can achieve each one of them. Weight loss and exercise can then be a process of achieving to look good and feel healthier but is not the end to all means. In addition, there are other ways to achieve your goal such as eat healthier, or cut down on takeaways and sweets.
If you just concentrate on losing weight you will join the gym and get the next diet regime in the hype of the times. Then you will soon lose sight of why you are torturing and depriving yourself from food. No surprise most gym memberships are sold in January to never be used again by February with maybe small exceptions when preparing for the bikini season.
2. COMPARE YOUR LIST WITH LAST YEARS
What did your resolution list look like last year? Do you automatically list the obvious things which are expected to be in your list? For example I used to be a smoker and for about 10 years in the top of my list was I will cut smoking. Smoking was bad for me and I knew I had to give up so every year I expected myself to try and stop smoking and then feel depressed as I had failed myself.
In addition think why you didn’t follow your last year’s resolutions. Did something affect you? Did something change? Finding the reasons why you didn’t do what you wanted last year it may be a way to help you avoid the same mistakes or help you plan for this year.
3. BE REALISTIC
Christmas and New Year can be emotionally charged times. The end of an era and the beginning of a new one it can make us make decisions based on emotions and not reality. Don’t forget to also ask yourself if you are realistic in what you want. My resolution could well be finding a gold bucket at the end of a rainbow but no matter what I do it may not quite reach fruition.
4. GET OFF THE DIET WAGON.
Another problem with concentrating with dieting is that you are likely to grab the next diet regime, book etc that looks good. Does it work? You may lose some weight in a few weeks but you will have to stop dieting at some point and then what? Have a break until the next diet or is it that you never stopped.
The weight loss industry is a very lucrative business and it does bank on the fact that you are looking for quick solution. I will go back to my first point which says make life goals and not a dieting commitment. Therefore, weight loss would be part of the life changes you want. Undoubtedly not everybody can do it by themselves, however try to pick that weight loss solution which will help you to learn about healthy eating, give you tips for your everyday life and support in what you are trying to achieve.
5. GET SUPPORT
Studies have actually shown that people who have support tend to lose more weight and adhere to diet regimes. Support which comes from your immediate family environment is always the best. However, if for any reason you can’t make that work support could come from friends, weight loss buddies, and even weight loss clubs and online weight loss services.
There are plenty of choices out there so you can find the one that works for you.
6. MOVE EVERYDAY
Physical activity and exercise is a bonus for your health and weight management. Make a pledge to move every day. You don’t have to necessarily pay big monthly subscriptions to a gym. Make a pledge to move a little bit every day.
Go for a walk, or run in the park, go shopping and walk around the shops, have a spring clean, play a game with the kids, have a swim and so on. All you need is commitment and imagination.
7. START LIVING
Once you set your life goals and resolutions all you have to do is start living. This is my new year’s mojo. Stop dieting and start living. I am sure I’m not the only one who says that but I am loving it.
The holidays are a time to indulge in delicious food, but too much snacking and calorie-filled beverages can lead to major weight gain come January. There is a way , however, you can enjoy your favorites without all that fat. iMag went to registered dietitian Sari Greaves, who has tricks to keeping trim throughout the holiday season.
Tip # 1: Practice Damage Control
This is not the time of year to go on a strict diet; it's a time to try to maintain your weight.
Tip # 2: Bring a healthy dish to the holiday party
Here are some easy potluck contributions:
- Hummus platter with vegetable crudite
- Mixed green salad topped with any type of beans and balsamic vinaigrette
- Shrimp cocktail
- Quinoa with vegetables
Tip # 3: Jazz up your grains
It's easy to give your grain dishes more of a nutritional boost. Quinoa, which is an easy pot luck idea mentioned above, is a whole grain that is high in protein (which will help you feel full on fewer calories). By stretching this dish over vegetables you slash half the calories and add nutrients.
Tip # 4: Never go to a party hungry!
You never want to eat something too small or too large before the holiday party. Go for a dish that contains a little bit or protein and carbs and is under 200 calories. Try a small apple with a scoop of peanut butter or Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of nuts.
Tip # 5: Beware of your beverage intake
Limit yourself to 1 - 2 party drinks. One standard drink is a 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or an ounce-and-a-half of 80 proof liquor.
Sari Greaves works as a registered dietitian at Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in Central New Jersey where she provides nutrition counseling to a wide variety of patients seeking weight loss and healthy lifestyle modification. As a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, she appears regularly on television and has done interviews on ABC News, New York 1, MY9 News, NBC News, Fox News, CW11 News and Bloomberg News. She has been quoted in a variety of print and Internet publications including the Wall Street Journal, Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Food & Fitness Advisor, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, MSN News, Men's Health Magazine, Women's Health Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Consumer Reports on Health, Fitness Magazine, Health Magazine among many others. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.