Even if you haven’t tried it, you’ve probably heard the buzz about High-Intensity Interval Training, which alternates short bursts of vigorous exercise with brief periods of active recovery (as in: exercising at a slower pace). Besides being a shorter regimen than most continuous workouts are, aerobic high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, allows you to burn more calories and push your heart rate more than you could with steady-state exercise, thus boosting your overall aerobic capacity faster. Believe it or not, HIIT also confers specific health benefits, some of which are fairly surprising.
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I received these tips on the Whole Life Challenge folks (www.WholeLifeChallenge.com)
I believe we have a (very) limited amount of willpower. Use it up on one thing, and it won’t be there for another.
You’ve experienced this: your day starts great, with good nutrition, sleep, and a workout. It goes downhill after a tough day at work, and by dinner, you’re reaching for beer and tortilla chips instead of a well-balanced meal, your willpower used up on the trials of the day.
Because willpower betrays us at the first sign of weakness, I’ve found that I’m best served by preparing ahead of time for those instances. Here are three things that get me through when the going gets tough.
1. The exercise calendar: I actually carve out exercise time on my calendar, first thing in the morning. An hour to do my warm-up, workout, cooldown and mobility work, written in digital. Having it on the calendar reminds me it is both a duty and a privilege to exercise, and keeps me from treating it like a less important part of my day.
2. The water bottle: hydration is a huge (and overlooked) factor in health and happiness. To match the Whole Life Challenge suggestion of ⅓ of my bodyweight in ounces (about 60 ounces for me), I carry around a 20-oz. water bottle with three rubber bands on it. Each time I finish a bottle, I remove a band, and by the end of the day, if all the bands are gone, I’ve met my prescription.
3. Write your shopping list: When I’m too tired to cook and I want something healthy (instead of succumbing to poor nutrition), how do I make sure it’s there? I write my weekly shopping list. If I’m going to eat 21 servings of protein this week, I need to actually have 21 servings on hand. If I plan to eat 10 apples over the next 7 days, I need to buy 10 apples. This is simple, and often overlooked.
I’ll be using all three of these tips liberally during the next challenge (as well as sharing a bunch more over the eight week duration). Hopefully, these will help you when the world conspires to throw you off track.
With the holiday season upon us, it is a great time to to get your winter fitness plan organized and employed. Binge eating through the holidays in anticipation of a “New Year’s Resolution” is a ticket to health and weight disaster! Setting a short term goal for November and December can save you a lot of trouble, and make moderation a lot easier as those inevitable temptations present themselves.
Here are some tips from WebMD on successfully navigating the season:
1. Trim back the trimmings. Go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, glitter, and lights, but when it comes to holiday food, accessorize with care. To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream — additions that don’t add much to the meal, but can add plenty to your waistline. Trim calories wherever you can so you leave the party feeling satisfied, but not stuffed, recommends Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD, author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous.
2. Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. When you wear snug-fitting attire, chances are you’ll be too busy holding in your stomach to overeat. While you stand around looking posh in your holiday finery, hold a drink in your dominant hand so it won’t be so easy to grab food, recommends obesity expert Cathy Nonas, MS, RD.
3. Chew gum. When you don’t want to eat, pop a piece of sugarless gum into your mouth. This works well when you’re cooking or when you’re trying not to dive into the buffet, says Nonas.
4. Be a food snob. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Melinda Johnson, MS, RD. Scan the buffet for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes that are available all year long. And don’t think it’s your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and, slowly and mindfully, savor every mouthful.
5. No skipping meals. Always eat normally on the day of a party. “People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there,” says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of Diet Simple. “Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint.” Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack or salad shortly before the event.
6. Check it out. First things first. When you arrive at the party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. This will give you time to relax, get comfortable in your surroundings, and survey your food choices on the buffet before diving in, says Tallmadge. A buffet is an invitation to eat all you can, and unless you carefully scrutinize it and make wise choices, you’re likely to overeat.
7. Add fun and games. Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, co-author of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy, proposes taking the focus off food and getting family and friends more active during holiday parties. Think horseshoes, badminton, sledding, ice skating, or building snowmen. Indoors, try a spirited game of charades, or rent an instructional dance video followed by a dance-off. “The best parties include dancing, so why not make dancing after eating a new holiday tradition for a great form of fun and recreation?” asks David Katz, MD, MPH, author of The Flavor Point Diet.
8. Alternate alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages. Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories — especially holiday favorites like eggnog. “Cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages,” Katz advises.
9. Skip the appetizers. “Eschew the appetizers rather than chewing on them,” says Katz. If you need a little nibble before the meal, go for the veggies, fruit, salsa, or a small handful of nuts.
10. Limit the variety. Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating, suggests putting only two items on your plate when you go to the food table. Return as many times as you like, but only take two items each time. “Variety stimulates appetite, and if you limit your choices to just a few items and stick with these, it will be easier to control than eating a little bit of 20 different dishes,” agrees Katz.