Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You've Got the Power!

In the world of fat loss and fitness program compliance, "keeping yourself motivated" is one of the main challenges that many people are struggling with.

You know the New Year's Resolution or January effect. After the New Year, so many people (and probably the same people) vow, yet again, to lose 20 pounds by changing their lifestyle, exercising regularly, eating healthy and staying in shape. They are super-charged for a few weeks.

By the end of January, the gym traffic is down significantly. Half people quit after six months. These people know that health and fitness are important. But they just cannot stick with an exercise program. They find themselves seemingly justifiable excuses: too tired, no time, business traveling, family and social obligations, long driving to the gym or simply lack of motivation.

Only gym rats, hardcore buffs and those really self-motivated people are still around and all year round. You can tell who they are and you can see the results.

So what separates the successful people from those habitual quitters? What's the driving force behind the successful people? What do they make it throughout the year and after years? Is it really just motivation?

What is motivation?

How do you get motivated and stay motivated?

Why do you want or need to work out?

Do you have the power to change your habit and behavior?

Why don't you have the burning desire to achieve the body you've alway wanted?

What's stopping you from achieving your goal?

Let's take a look at human behavior and self-determination theory (SDT). The SDT goes by that the more self-determined we are, the more we're doing what we want to do and aren't forced to do; therefore the happier and more successful we tend to be. Sounds logic and reasonable?

How Motivated Are You?

Five levels of motivation and type are categorized in the following.

Level 1: You have no particular reason for working out.
Motivation Type: Amotivation
No external or internal factors influence your activity, so no activity occurs.

Level 2: You work out because other people like you better when you're in shape.
Motivation Type: External Regulation
The mind responds to outside stimulii, though no internal motivation exists.

Level 3: You work out because you would feel bad about yourself if you didn't.
Motivation Type: introjected Regulation
Internal motivation begin to form, but limited positive outcome occurs.

Level 4: You work out because you believe it's important and beneficial for health and lifestyle.
Motivation Type: Identified Regulation
Motivations become more positive, resulting in prolonged positive behavior.

Level 5: You work out because you simply enjoy it.
Motivation Type: Intrinsic Motivation
Positive activity is performed for extended periods because of pleasure response.

So what's your level of motivation?

The less intrinsic your motivation for exercising is, the more you're working out because you think you should and because you really enjoy it - the less likely you are to stick with it.

If you accept this behavorial model, the next question is how do you transcend to the next level, eventually to Level 5 and stay at it?

Find the Good Reasons to Drive You to Succeed

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it. Not all the tasks have the good reasons to do them seen at first sight, but if you take just a few moments to analyse them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all - we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

But if you’re ever stuck with some task you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons. This applied to working out and eating healthy. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some. This will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Too many people have the quick-fix mentality partly due to inaccurate weight-loss infomercials. They quit exercising when they don't see results in two weeks, 21 days or 30 days. Health and fitness is not a 12-week program. It's a lifelong commitment.

What's Really Driving You?

Material reward? This is quite often. You will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all. External rewards and punishments do influence our behavior.

Personal gain or pleasure? You will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way. When we're kids playing baseball or any games because it's fun, not because we can put on muscles or stay healthy. We're driven to do things simply for their own sake.

Sense of accomplishment? At least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.

A step closer to your bigger goal? Even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

Once you find out the good reasons and clarify your goals, follow these 10 steps by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS to keep yourself motivated.

10 Ways to Stay Motivated (by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS)

1. Take it down a notch. Many beginners, in a combination of enthusiasm and impatience, wind up overtraining -- doing too much, too soon, too frequently. That results in sluggishness, soreness, exhaustion and a general meltdown -- in other words, lack of motivation. Cut back on the intensity and go for a walk instead. That will save you from burnout.

2. Schedule your workouts in advance. Make appointments with yourself (or with a buddy) for a specific time and place. Treat the appointment as you would any promise. If you make time in advance and plan on keeping your word, you're more likely to keep that appointment. It helps when you share the commitment and speak it "out loud," to a workout partner or a cyberbuddy.

3. Whenever possible, schedule morning workouts. You get it out of the way, and you start the day feeling that you've already accomplished something positive for yourself. Plus, a morning workout can have an energizing effect that lasts for hours.

4. Concentrate on finding personal measures of improvement. Are you feeling better? Are you breaking through barriers? Are you learning something about yourself and your ability to keep your word to yourself? Is your endurance improving? Chart these benefits, no matter how small they may seem, and a pattern will soon emerge that can get you through the tough times.

5. Keep a journal. You'll be hearing a lot about this in future columns. It's the one thing nearly every weight-loss expert agrees on, and as you know, we don't agree on too many things. At the very least, a journal can help you see patterns between food, mood and energy levels. Used thoughtfully, it can teach you important things about yourself and your relationship with food, sex, comfort, body image and weight.

6. Understand that the voice in your head that constantly criticizes is only one of many possible voices. You can't shut it up, but you can balance it with one that cheers you on and raves about your good points. Try giving your "cheerleader" a voice and you'll understand. If you don't have a cheerleader, create one.

7. When you feel like doing nothing, do a little. Many programs are abandoned because the hour workout seems like too much and you bag it altogether. On days like this, change your goal to 15, 10 or even 5 minutes. Consistency breeds success. Doing even 10 minutes consistently is ultimately far more important than doing an hour every once in a while.

8. When you're getting stale, change your workout. If you workout at a gym, try using the park. If you normally run, try the rowing machine. Add some weights or change the weight exercises you normally do to spice things up a bit. happy.

9. Make it fun. Many people feel a drop in motivation when their workout becomes yet another obligation. Ask yourself what kind of activity that requires moving around might also be fun. Maybe it's dancing in front of the stereo for a half-hour while listening to your favorite CD. Great. That's your workout for today. Do it and be happy.

10. Get a buddy or, if possible, schedule a session (or three) with a personal trainer. The input of another person can inject a tired routine with new juice, and you may learn some really cool stuff in the process. Never underestimate the power of a new voice.

Yes. You've got the power to change. It's all inside you!

Copyright 2007 by C. Carey Yang.
All rights reserved.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

8-Minute Abs Attack

The truth is that 90% of your six pack abs is made in the kitchen.

So clean up your diet first!

You may have rock hard abdominal muscles. But your six pack abs won't be visible if you have a layer of abdominal fat covering those muscles.

Typically males have to reduce their body fat below approximately 10% for their abs to show. For females, it's about 16%.

If you really want your abs pop out like the fitness models or bodybuilders, you need to reduce body fat even further.

How to Get Your Six Pack Abs?

The answer is simple but it's not easy.

Your get-lean-lose-fat strategy is to engage in regular weight training routine to build muscles, perform cardiovascular exercise including high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) to burn body fat, eat well-balanced meals with properly portioned nutrition, and rest and sleep enough to recover.

You should also know that you cannot spot-reduce abdominal fat. However, you can target-train those abdominal muscles.

The following is a video showing an 8-minute abdominal workout. Each movement lasts for 45 seconds. There is no rest between the movements just like circuit training. That's, keep attacking the abdominal muscles for 8 straight minutes. I suggest that you stretch your neck and back after the workout.

8-Minute Abs Attack
Circuit Training Routine
Basic Crunch x 45 sec
Right Oblique Crunch x 45 sec
Left Oblique Crunch x 45 sec
Toe Touches x 45 sec
Reverse Crunch x 45 sec
Right Side Crunch x 45 sec
Left Side Crunch x 45 sec
Push Through x 45 sec
Leg Pushes x 45 sec
Alternating Curls x 45 sec
Curl x 45 sec

Enjoy the pain!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Strength Circuit Training - Upper Body on Cable Pulley Stations

Fast Workout. Effective Results.

Circuit training is one of the training systems that you perform at least 5 exercises back to back with no or little rest in between. You take the prescribed rest after finishing all exercises in a circuit or as a long set.

Circuit training has many benefits and advantages: saving workout time, reducing risk of injuries and breaking training plateau by cross training and changing up training routines. It can be used in the mesocycle as part of the whole periodization training program.

If organized and performed properly, circuit training can be effective in any programs for building muscles, losing fat and really shaping up your body. It is one of the most efficient training systems to help you tone up muscles, fire up your fat burning furnace, and reveal your six-pack abs.

In an earlier article, I have covered the concept of circuit training and explained what it is, what it's not for and how to do it. I also provide the guidelines for designing a circuit training program.
Several circuit training sample routines are demonstrated using bodyweight, strength machines, barbells and dumbbells. "Timed" strength machine and Smith-machine based circuit workout routines are also given.

In the following, I'll demonstrate a upper-body strength circuit training routine based on Cybex cable stations. There are many other fitness equipment manufacturers that market similar machines and systems. This strength circuit training routine can be used to complement other weight training or circuit training routines using other types of resistance.

It's a great principle of fitness training by mixing up mult-joint compound exercises with single-joint isolation exercises. Another tip is to work the full range of motion, all three planes (vertical, horizontal and rotational) and push/pull joint actions.

The Cybex Crossover Station has two vertical towers on two independent pulley systems. The pulleys are adjustable between high and low positions. One can perform various unilateral or bilateral exercises by pulling the cable(s) against the weight stacks. It normally has handles or grips on the top beam running across the two towers where you can do pullups, chinups or hanging leg/knee raises.

Cybex Modular System has several exercise stations centered around a tower or column. It may have a unit for weight-assisted pullup, chinup or dip, a unit for pressdown or pulldown exercises, a cable seated rowing unit, an adjustable bench for situp or reverse situp and a unit for back extension.

Cable Station Based Circuit Training Routine -
Upper Body Push/Pull
Cable Chest Press to Fly x 8 - 12 reps
Cable Overhead Shoulder Press x 8 -12 reps
Kneeling Cable Crunch x 15 - 20 reps
Dip (bodyweight) x 8 -15 reps
Triceps Pressdown x 8 - 12 reps
Biceps Curl x 8 -12 reps
Lat Pulldown x 8 -12 reps
Seated Low Row x 8 -12 reps

Rest for 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
Repeat for a total of 2 to 4 circuits.

You can also change the order of the exercises or vary the repetitions in subsequent circuits. The accumulated training effect is different. You'll feel different intensity of tension on your muscles.

Remember that circuit training is not meant for replacing your regular weight training program. This is not a complete upper-body weight training routine. The idea is to group the exercises and workout stations so that you can effectively train most upper-body muscles.

In addition, go to gym at a less crowded time when you're able to use different exercise units in a circuit fashion. If you're interrupted, it defeats the benefits of circuit training: time and efficiency.

At the end of your circuit training, you should feel racing heart beat and breathe heavier. You know your metabolism is firing up and your fat burning furnace is cranking hard.

This is the best time to finish up your workout by doing 15 minutes of high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) cardio exercise on any cardio machine to burn off your body fat!

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alli Is Not a Wonder OTC Diet Drug

Xenical (Orlistat) will become the first over-the-counter diet pill in the United States.

Sounds good for millions of obese and overweight people?

With so many false claims, overpromises, litigations, fines and accidental deaths, shouldn't people already learn to stop looking for the magical diet pills?

Xenical has previously only been a prescription drug approved by the FDA for weight loss. The drug works by blunting fat absorption by blocking the digestive enzyme lipase. The over-the-counter version of the diet drug is marketed under the name "alli."

Alli does something totally different. It prevents some of the fat you eat from being absorbed by simply passing through your digestive system.

There are potentially uncomfortable and even embarrassing gastro-intestinal side effects: oily discharge, leaking, urgency, flatulence, oily spotting, liquid stools, incontinence, etc.

Like many other over-promising weight-loss diet pills, they all have potential health risks and nasty side effects .

Herald-Leader Columnist Cheryl Truman criticized the first over-the-counter weight loss drug and shared her journey to losing 74 pounds by adopting healhty eating habits and exercising regularly.

Read her inspiring story here. >>

Orlistat (under the name "alli") is not a wonder diet drug. It didn't promise big weight loss. The manufacturer still recommends doing exercise to go with the drug. Well, if you exercise regularly and eat right, then you don't need that drug.

The take-away message is that so many people have lost weight (fat) successfully without taking any wonder diet drugs or weight loss pills. More importantly, they start to live an active, healthy lifestyle. They achieve their goals by taking care of their body and mind. "Weight loss" is no longer on the back of their heads. They learn to live an enriched and inspired life to the fullest.

Weight "loss" is a negative word and mindset that would make people's lifestyle in a downward spiral vicious cycle. It's a near-sighted short-term fix to your fundamental long-term healthy lifestyle changes. It won't last long. I'm sure you at least know someone who has been in "yo-yo" cycle of weight gain and loss for sometime, a few years or even a good part of his or her life.

The right mindset is to unleash the full potential of your lifestyle and gain your energy to succeed in every area of your life. You want to "gain" leanness, look good and feel better. That is the secret to permanent weight loss. Exercise and diet are two of the best actions, tools or methods to achieve your bigger lifestyle goal. Exercise and diet by themselves are not the goals.

Fat loss is simple, but not easy!

A good starting point is to following the Ten Commandments of Successful Exercise and Weight Management Programs and learn to live a high-energy performance lifestyle!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fat Loss Expert Reveals His 10 Top Lists of Foods That Burn Fat

Nutrition is the most important part in any muscle building, fat loss or sports training program.

You can train as long and as hard as you can. If you don't have proper nutrition and healthy eating habits to help you recover from the training load, you won't succeed in any goal or program. A car cannot run on empty gas tank.

Admittedly, we at least have to eat to live.

The #1 fat loss expert and top natural bodybuilder Tom Venuto recently reveals his top 10 lists of foods that burn fat.

Click here to learn more what Tom Venuto eats to achieve his amazing muscular body.

Tom's top 10 lists of starchy carbs, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins are in the following.

Tom's Top 10 Starchy Carb and Grains
1. Oatmeal (old fashioned)
2. Yams (almost same as sweet potatoes)
3. brown rice (love basmati, a long grain aromatic rice)
4. Sweet potatoes
5. Multi grain hot cereal (mix or barley, oats, rye titricale and a few others)
6. White potatoes (glycemic index be damned!)
7. 100% whole wheat bread (not on competition diets)
8. 100% whole wheat pasta (not on competition diets)
9. Beans (great for healthy chili recipes)
10. Cream of rice hot cereal

Tom's Top 10 Vegetables
1. broccoli
2. asparagus
3. spinach
4. salad greens
5. tomatoes
6. peppers (green and red)
7. onions
8. mushrooms
9. cucumbers
10. Zucchini

Tom's Top 10 Fruits
1. Grapefruit
2. Apples
3. Blueberries
4. Canteloupe
5. Oranges
6. Bananas
7. Peaches
8. Grapes
9. Strawberries
10. Pineapple

Tom's Top 10 Lean Proteins
1. Egg whites
2. Whey protein (protein powder supplement)
3. Chicken Breast
4. Salmon
5. Turkey Breast
6. Top round steak
7. Flank Steak
8. Orange Roughy Fish
9. Bison/Buffalo
10. Cod Fish

You may or may not like all these foods. You should choose healthy foods that you enjoy eating. There is a wide variety of healthy choices in addition to Tom's favorites.

Click here to find out more world's healthiest foods.

Contrary to most people's impression, the healthiest foods are in fact familiar whole foods, nutrient dense, readily available and affordable. And they taste good!

Monday, June 11, 2007

National Men's Health Week June 11-17, 2007

June 11-17 is the International Men's Health Week 2007.

Men could add years or even decades of life by simply adopting healthy lifestyle changes, staying active, exercising regularly, eating healthy and not smoking.

Men faces somewhat different life-threatening conditions from women. Some risk factors are within men's capacity to control.

The following list is the top 10 deadly health threats leading to men's death.

Click here to learn more about the health threats and how to prevent them.

Counting Down...

No. 10: Alzheimer’s Disease

No. 9: Kidney Disease

No. 8: Suicide

No. 7: Pneumonia and Flu

No. 6: Diabetes

No. 5: COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

No. 4: Stroke

No. 3: Accidents

No. 2: Cancer

No. 1: Heart Diseases

High Five to Top Five Foods

To get a lean, fit and healthy body, you know you need to exercise regularly by lifting weight and cardiovascular training.

But this cannot be done withour proper and timely nutrition to fuel your body. You need to eat nutrient-rich well-balanced meals based on real whole foods to help you recover from your hard-core training.

Fat loss is simple, but not easy!

So what exactly are the most important types of foods you should be eating?

Many people over-complicate a basic nutrition plan for healthy eating. Instead, they opt for those crack diets or pills. They may see the results quick, but mess up their body in the long run. Most people regain the weight that they lost (mostly water weight) plus some more.

The following five top priority foods should be considered on your regular meals to achieve your top performance body.

Say Yes to These Top Five Foods

1. Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids (EFA) that make up the basic bulding blocks of our cells. They regulate many different functions.

Omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce cardiovacular disease, stroke and heart attacks and to prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In addition, they help reduce inflammation, autoimmune disorders and many other diseases.

Cold water fish such as wild salmon, herring, sardines, black cod or sable are considered relatively safe sources of Omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds are also good sources of omega-3 fats.

2. Cruciferous Vegetables
They are powerful sources of nutrients for health, such as folate, the B vitamins and magnesium.

Cruciferous vegetables also have powerful compounds called phytonutrients that can help fight aging and diseases and detoxitfy heavy metals and pesticides.

Common cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, Chinese broccoli and broccoli sprouts.

3. Nuts
Nuts are very good sources of magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and vegetable protein.

Nuts can help with weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases when eaten in moderation.

Almonds, walnuts, pecans area all healthy choices.

4. Deeply Colored Fruits
These fruits are rich in anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-aging compounds.

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red grapes, pomegranates, mangoes and papayas are great sources of these nutrients.

5. Green Tea
Green tea contains a class of compounds called catechins that have many health benefits, including increase metabolic rate, reduce inflammation, increase enzymes to prevent cancer and help detoxify the liver.

Go for the higher quality, whole-leaf green teas to get the most beneficial compounds.
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