Archive for July, 2010

Do Magazine Diets Sabotage Weight Loss?

July 26th, 2010 No comments

Some plans just don’t add up

I’m always a little confused when I read the details of weight loss plans that I find in popular health and fitness magazines. So I decided to crunch some numbers, and I was more than surprised with what I found.

Why popular weight loss plans concern me

Take this diet I saw in a fitness magazine. It probably sounds a lot like plans you’ve seen in similar publications. The first thing that made me uneasy was a recommended 1,400 calorie a day meal plan. No way, I thought, you don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight.

Now I’m no expert, but I’ve read what many of them have to say. Most women need a few hundred calories above or below 1,400 (it can vary by person) just so their vital organs function, which means brains, hearts, lungs, kidneys and more. If you don’t consume more calories than that basic amount you’ll be risking your health and likely setting yourself up for a failed attempt at weight loss.

What about calories burned through exercise?

Which brings me to my next point. These weight loss plans don’t end at restricting calorie intake, they also recommend regular strength training and cardio workouts. If you take in 1,400 calories a day and burn off 400 during one workout session, that leaves only 1,000 for your body to use during the rest of the day - much less than what is considered essential. And as we’ve been told by experts in these same magazines, one workout session can boost the amount of calories you burn for hours afterwards, meaning even more calories gone.

What about calories burned through digestion?

But here’s another factor. You have to eat to take in those 1,400 calories, and every time you eat you’ll burn calories. About 10 percent of the calories you take in are burned off through digestion. So if you’re only taking in 1,400 you’ll burn about 140.

What about calories burned through NEAT?

The body’s calorie burning doesn’t stop there. You won’t be lying around doing nothing all day, getting in that one hour of exercise before becoming sedentary again. Every move you make throughout the day causes your body to burn calories, even something as seemingly unimportant as fidgeting. When calories are burned this way it’s known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT. Some people fidget and gesture so much throughout the day that they burn up to 350 calories.

When you do the math it’s easy to see why calorie restriction sets dieters up for failure.

Splurge and Steal Strength Training Equipment

July 12th, 2010 No comments

How to invest wisely or save pennies as you tone your body

If you want to get buff, or already are and want to maintain it, strength training is the only answer. When you’re at the gym there are endless possibilities for challenging the muscles, including cable and weight stack machines, free weights, isolation stations and more. At home you probably long for the same variety. The good news is it’s easy to get everything you need if you know the price you’re willing to pay.

Life Fitness home gym - If you’ve got about $3,000 kicking around you might be tempted by the Life Fitness G7, which includes a chin-up bar, adjustable cables with quick-lock attachments, dual weight stacks and a mounted exercise book. This home gym is about the best you can get. It allows the user to perform moves on a bench, standing, or using an exercise ball. Search our store to find a variety of home gyms for women.
Vibration platform- Some say a vibrating platform is simply an unstable surface, much like a stability ball, but others, including many professional athletes and trainers believe it offers much more including increased muscle gains when used as part of a strength training program. Workouts done on a vibration platform are said to require only a few minutes, three to five times a week. Many of these machines cost around $1,000, but Gaiam makes its own version, called the Chi Vibe, which is relatively cheap at between $400 and $500.

Grab the advice below then surf our store to see find great deals on strength training equipment.

Pilates bodybands - These kits include an instructional DVD and a set of two or more resistance bands for overall body toning and strengthening. Not only are they about as cheap a strength training system as you can get, at about $30, but they’re extremely portable and easy to store. Just because bands are light in terms of weight, doesn’t mean they can’t put the same force on your muscles as a 10 lb. dumbbell. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to pack your vibration platform in your suitcase and take with you on holiday.
Stability ball - Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Stability balls can be a very useful part of your strength training program. To get the most out of your ball, use it in place of a weight bench. Not only is it a heck of a lot cheaper (about $10 to $20), but it will engage more of your muscles because it’s an unstable surface. You can also use the stability ball to make weight bearing exercises more difficult. Prop it under your hands for push-ups, push your feet into it for pelvic thrusts, place it between your back and the wall when performing squats…the possibilities are endless.

Splurge and Steal Cardio Equipment

July 5th, 2010 1 comment

Make good investments - or get great deals- when spending your fitness dollars
When it comes to cardio there are a lot of options. It can be difficult to know where to spend your hard earned money. Do you get one big ticket item and cross your fingers that you’ll put it to use, or do you trust that equipment costing less than $100 will give you everything you need. Here’s a list of some splurges and great steals so you know what you’re up against as you shop for cardio equipment.

Treadmill - The most well-known piece of cardio equipment, fitness treadmills are also some of the most expensive. High end models that have all the things that make treadmills fun - such as individual programs, variable inclines, a wider range of speeds and high tech heart rate monitors and calorie counters - can cost home users upwards of several thousand dollars. Even a cheap store-brand treadmill will cost about $400, and that’s if it’s on sale. If you’ve ever used a health club quality treadmill you might find yourself disappointed if you choose to settle for a relatively lower priced model for your home. So if you’re going to splurge for one of these cardio machines, you might as well go the distance and get one you will actually like.
Elliptical - Ellipticals offer smooth motion and low-impact aerobic exercise, which is why so many people love using them. Many have moveable handles so you’ll benefit from a total body workout. And if you get one with a good range of incline you’ll be able to work your lower body from a variety of angles, including several that will really target your butt and thighs. I myself have tried a few cheaper elliptical trainers that cost their purchasers as little as $150 to $300, but without incline and the ----- to change resistance I found the workouts they lacking. If you choose to splurge on one of these make sure you try it out thoroughly before you buy.

Mini steppers - For about $50 you can get one of these compact pieces of equipment that’ll tone your butt while raising your heart rate. Some of these machines come with attached resistance cords so you can work your arms at the same time. The best part about the mini stepper isn’t the price though, it’s the size. They are small enough to store in a cupboard, and you can even put them under your desk to get a bit of cardio in while you work.
BOSU ball - You might be thinking that a BOSU ball isn’t a cardio machine because it has no motor or even moving parts, but you’d be doing yourself a big disservice. I think it’s what you do with the equipment that counts, and with a BOSU you can do almost anything. These oddly-shaped wonders (they look like half a stability ball attached to a flat platform) give you the butt toning benefit of a step, combined with an uneven surface that forces your body to use core stabilizing muscles at every move. Like mini steppers, some BOSUs have resistance cords attached so you can target your entire body and up the calorie burn.
Hula hoop - I know what you’re thinking. Those aren’t cardio equipment, they’re children’s toys. That may be true, but there aren’t many other kids toys that’ll burn this many calories and help you lose inches off your entire body (while making you feel years younger), unless of course you count the skipping rope.