Tag Archives: Work Out

4 Reasons to Find a Great Work Out Partner

work out partnerWe know that motivating yourself to get out there and work out can be tough. So don’t do it alone! One of the greatest assets you can have is a great work out partner who pushes you to reach your own goals and doesn’t let you give up when you’re having a rough time. It can be a tough road to making a healthier lifestyle change, but when you have the right person beside you it can make all the difference. Follow these tips to create a successful work out partnership.

1. Choosing the Right Partner – The most important quality in a work out partner is that they are reliable. If you agree to go out or meet at the gym at a certain time you want to make sure they will be there. This also means that you have to be equally accountable to them. There are going to be days when neither of you want to get out there, but you have to push yourselves to do it! Having a reliable partner will remind you of your important goals when you want to give up. You have to be willing to be there for them in the same way.

2. Partners Help Create Variety – Having a partner in crime when you’re working out also helps to keep you from falling into a boring routine. When you’re working out with someone else you can trade ideas and create new routines that are interesting and challenging for both of you.

3. Compete but Don’t Compare – The other type of motivation a partner brings to your work out naturally is competition. Who can run a little father? Maybe do a few more push ups? Perhaps you can make your warrior-2 pose more aligned. Having someone there to push you a bit further is a great way to get yourself to do more than you thought you could.

However, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different body type that burns fat and changes in different ways. So while you and your partner may compete in healthy ways, don’t compare weight goals or size. Comparing yourself to someone else in that way will only lead to disaster. Everyone’s lifestyle goals should be independent and created on their own body type and hopes.

4. The Strength in Numbers – Are you one of those really social types? No one said you had to stick to just one partner! Mallika herself has written about the great support of having a group of people that hold you accountable. Start a walking group with people at your office or take a fitness class. The people there already share an interest and you can band together to make your work outs even more effective!

The Power of Breath in Meditation and Fitness

BreatheInBreatheOutPayAttentionI was nine years old when my father, Deepak Chopra, taught me to meditate. Meditation has become an invaluable tool in my life to help  me stay calm, centered, and focused since then.

A vital part of meditation is breath. It is also an important aspect of yoga in wisdom traditions.  We know through sciences that breath is a critical component of the cardiovascular system, supports our digestive and lymphatic systems and is a reflection of our nervous system.

I use breath constantly as a tool to calm down when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. And my daughters have also been taught to meditate to help them deal with stress at school. Your breathing is an expression of the activity of the mind. When we are settled, our breath slows down. When we are excited or anxious our breath gets faster.

There are a few simple breathing techniques you can try to help you stay calm and focused in a nerve-wracking moment. I go through a few of them in these guided meditations from The Chopra Well.

With conscious, intentional breath, we can slow down our automatic responses to situations and be more present in what we may be doing. I use these meditations to help me get through the day, but there are many times when your breathing can help you be more effective in your activities – specifically when working out.

Ann Bruck, a trainer with Sports Club/LA explains that there are two different types of breathing when you are doing physical activity. There’s stimulating breath which aims to increase energy and alertness. You breathe in and out rapidly through your nose with your mouth closed for 15 seconds at a time. The other type is relaxed breath, where you inhale for a count of 1 and exhale for a count of 1. Then inhale for a count of 2 and exhale the same, until you reach a cycle of five. This will help calm your nervous system and bring your body back to balance.

What kind of breathing techniques do you use when you are working out? Do you have any meditations or  exercises you use during the day to help you stay focused? I’d love if you shared in the comments below!

photo by: tokyosucks

Why Wait: Setting Realistic Intents for 2014 to Increase Your Success

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As December draws to a close people begin looking towards the year ahead and making their resolutions. At Intent, we encourage people to think a little deeper, to set their goals based on the desires of their soul. As you are creating your list of intents for 2014 there are several things to consider. Often times people set goals that are unrealistic and when they realize that they won’t be able to reach that expectation they give up entirely. Don’t let that happen to you,especially if you are setting intents related to your health and fitness. Create goals that challenge you, but that you know you can reach so that it motivates you to keep going.

To help you start off 2014 in a healthier way, and maintain that change throughout the year, we talked to our friends at Sports Club/LA on how to set Intents that are realistic for your personality and lifestyle to help you create permanent change. Follow these tips when making your 2014 New Year Intent lists.

  1. Avoid Specific Numbers and Go for Overall Change – The most popular “resolution” on lists this year will be “Lose x amount of pounds.” Stop right there. There have been several studies that show your weight number does not necessarily correlate to your overall health, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. If you start playing a numbers game then you already set yourself up for unnecessary pressure. Instead create an intent similar to “I intend to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.” It’s more general, but it leads to more lasting change. It means not only are you going to work out, but take into account your nutrition and spiritual health as well. When you begin to think broader about your overall health, you don’t tie yourself to a treadmill trying to sweat it out into a new pair of jeans. You begin making small changes in several aspects of your life to make you a happier person in general. Challenge yourself to think deeper, not heavier.
  2. Choose Smarter Nutrition Over Fad Diets – Your eating habits can account for up to 80% of your overall weight loss, so beginning to change your nutrition needs to be taken seriously. If you start automatically on January 1 (or tomorrow) on a fad diet that cuts out all of the foods that you’ve been used to eating, you won’t last very long. Instead it is about baby steps and making small, gradual changes so that you build making healthy choices into your routine instead of something you torture yourself to do for a few weeks – because then the results will be temporary as well. Look at improving your nutrition for good as your gateway to a healthier you! “What we choose to put in our mouth is the most intimate experience we’ll have, therefore it’s important that food be looked at with the intent of supporting and nourishing the body,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “Foods that the body recognizes, i.e. fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and some grains should round out a person’s diet in moderate portion sizes. Weight loss is then just side effect of a truly nourished body. “
  3. Plan Challenging Routines that Don’t Ever Extend Yourself – The likelihood of you being able to go from couch to a 7-days a week work out regimen and sustain it is very unlikely. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead set a more realistic goal of 2-3 days a week to begin. This way if something comes up and you can’t make it one day you are still getting in a regular routine. Or start a regular class to get your feet wet – some place that will hold you accountable without overwhelming your schedule. As Karen also explains, creating a life change is about baby steps. “To make a complete life-change, taking baby steps and “leaning” into a new way of being is key. This enables us to pave a new foundation and build from there. It must begin with nutrition, and include an active life-style with focus on self care, rest, and stress management. When all of these wheels are working in harmony, the body and its relationship to food and the outside world begins to make sustainable change.”

Look over your list of 2014 intents and check them with these tips. If your current intents feel too numbers based or too specific, take a minute to think deeper – why are you setting that intent? Why is that something you desire? When you can answer those questions,  that is your true intent and focusing on that more encompassing goal will be more fulfilling than checking off a simple box. Setting an overall intent can allow you to make smaller goals, to create a plan of baby steps to reach it. Realize that creating true change in your life takes time and don’t rush it – allow yourself the patience to get there at the pace that is right for you.

Have you started your 2014 Intent list? We’d love to hear them so share in the comments below!

Proper Nutrition to Keep Your Workout Rocking

By Tamal Dodge

We all want our workouts to have a result. It could be on a subtle level of getting peace of mind or a physical quest of losing body fat and gaining toned muscles. Regardless, nutrition plays a huge role in every facet of our goal. If we have the right foods and nutrients in our bodies, we will not only see results, but have more energy to keep our workouts rocking!

A few tips:

1. Fresh air. Oxygen is the most important nutrient for the human body. If you exercise outdoors, you will have an extra boost for your cells and attain deeper mental clarity. If you live somewhere cold and working out outdoors is not realistic, try to go outside for at least 5-10 minutes daily just to breathe deep. It will enhance your day incredibly.

2. Water. Drink lots of water — at least half of your body weight in ounces.  (If you weigh 100 pounds, drink 50 ounces of water every day.) Some people have a misconception that drinking too much water results in bloating and looking heavy. If you don’t drink water, you retain more of it, which really manifests your fear. Proper hydration helps you look leaner and boosts your energy.

3. First meal. The word breakfast come from the saying “breaking a fast.” Since it’s the first meal since the previous night’s dinner, you want to eat something highly nutritious and sustaining without being heavy. We often make the mistake of eating a huge meal first thing, draining our energy and slowing us down. I suggest drinking a smoothie or eating fruit, especially if plan on working out immediately after.

4. Eat plant-based foods instead of an omnivorous diet. The more you switch your food choices to plant-based foods the more energy, enzymes, nutrients and vitality you will have. Get your protein and carbohydrates from whole grains, beans, legumes,nuts and seeds. Try eating raw fruits and vegetables throughout your day, or with every meal to get your vitamins, phytochemicals and enzymes. This dietary shift can potentially change your entire body and give you longevity, according to studies such as the China Study and Blue Zones.

These are just a few tips to keep your workouts rocking and to see results from all your efforts.

Tamal Dodge is one of the youngest and most respected yoga instructors in the world. He was born and raised in his families yoga ashram in Hawaii and has been teaching and practicing yoga since childhood. Tamal will be teaching two classes at the Tadasana Festival in Santa Monica over Earth Day weekend: Intro to Inversion and In the Land of Power and Flow. By using his promo code, tamal7, you save $50 off a three-day festival pass until April 1. Purchase tickets here.

Photo by flickr user Tom Mooring.

Best Exercise Ball Routines

 
 
You have probably seen these colorful balls in your gym or in a magazine. There is a good reason that they have become so ubiquitous. Exercise balls are inexpensive and focus on your “core.” The “core” is defined asbalanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back.”
 
Here are some great exercises you can do with only an exercise ball to help you strengthen your muscles, tone your body and look fabulous!
 
 
Back Extensions.  Make sure the ball is placed at your lower torso and hips. Put your hands behind your head and slowly roll your body down the ball. Lift your chest until your body is in a straight line. Repeat 12-16 times.
 
Seated Leg Extensions will strengthen both your abs and your back. Sit in a neutral, lumbar position. Place your hands on your hips, keep your back straight and shoulders down. Lift one foot at a time and straighten the knee. Repeat 10-20 times.
 
 
CrunchesIf you want flat abs, this is the way to do it! Keep your feet flat on the floor and your lower back on the ball. Your upper body and thighs should be parallel to the floor. Do sit-ups/crunches like you usually would.   Repeat 8-12 times. 
 
 
SquatsProp the ball between your lower back and the wall. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Bend at your knees and hips and move back-and-forth from a sitting to a standing position. Repeat 8-15 times. 
 
Plank Pike-UpThis exercise looks more difficult than it actually is. Lie on top of your ball with your shins on the ball and your hands on the floor. Use your abs and legs to roll the ball to your center. Lift your hips and keep your head down. Hold for one count and then roll it back. Repeat 10-12 times.
 
Bent-Knee BridgesTone up that behind with this great ball exercise! Place your feet flat on the ball. Extend your arms on either side, keeping your head and neck flat on the floor. Raise and lower your pelvis 10-20 times.
 
Opposite Limb Extensionswill improve both your balance and your core strength. Alternately lift your lift arm and right leg, hold for a count, lower, and then raise your right arm and left leg. 

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr /  Ksionic

Tips To Revitalize Your Work-Out, Renew Your Commitment

The English poet William Cowper wrote, “Variety is the spice of life / That gives it all its flavor.” This advice can easily be applied to your workout routine. It doesn’t take long to become bored with exercise if you don’t keep it interesting. And if you are not interested, you are more likely to find excuses not to do it at all. Stay healthy, maintain your weight, and feel better about yourself in general by mixing it up. 

Start Here
 
·       It’s a new day. Stop feeling guilty about the time you’ve neglected exercise or the weight you’ve gained. As the old Nike advertisements argued, “Just DO it.”
 
·       Make a schedule. Rather than just leaving it up to “When I can cram it in to my life,” get out your calendar and BUDGET the time. If you know you have events that conflict with your schedule in advance, you can plan ahead and make sure you have an alternate time to work out.
 
·       If you despised what you did before, don’t punish yourself. Try something different: yoga, music-integrated aerobics classes, circuit training, running, or weight-lifting. 
 
If you are going to try a new workout, or just need some pointers on how to improve your existing routine, here are some tips to get the most out of your time.

Running. 
·       If you are a runner, be sure to choose at least three different routes. Flat, uphill, winding….whatever makes one sufficiently different from the other.
 
·       Go with at least one friend. It’ll keep you honest.
 
·       Switch between two different pairs of shoes.

Yoga
·       If you have a stressful job or home life (or both), consider yoga. Yoga focuses not just on the physical, but equally on the spiritual and emotional. Yoga is an 8,000 year old practice, so if you are worried that it is a fad, don’t.
 
·       Try different types of yoga: 
o      HathaVery good for beginners. Focuses on learning the most common and basic poses as well as on breathing techniques.
o      Bikram (or “Hot Yoga”)With studios heated to 105 degrees, you will lose weight quickly. Bikram also focuses on proper alignment.
o      Vinyasa. If you like a faster pace, then Vinyasa yoga is a great choice. Routines change constantly, so you are less likely to become bored.
o      Ashtanga. Extremely demanding, Ashtanga is also known as “power yoga.”
o      These are just a few of the many types of yoga styles. For a complete overview, click here and find the one that is right for YOU.

Aerobics
Get your heart rate up, burn calories, lose weight and have fun! Some people feel better about working out when they can do it in a big group. Also, most aerobics classes feel more like dance, which may make it seem less like exercise! Try out a few of these programs and see what tickles your toes!
 
·       ZumbaZumba is a “fusion of Latin and International music that creates a dynamic, exciting, and effective fitness system,” proclaims its website. And it’s true. Zumba classes have sprung up all over the country. Try it out!
 
·       JazzerciseThis program was founded in 1969 and is still going strong. Dancing With the Stars celebrity Cheryl Burke endorses Jazzercise. This fitness class will improve both your strength and endurance while keeping up your cardio rate to burn fat and calories.
 
Weight Training
 
If you truly want to change the shape of your body, and not just lose pounds, weight training is the way to go. It’s probably best to go to a gym and buy at least three sessions with a personal trainer, who can show you how to do the moves properly with many different types of weights and also show you how to safely increase the amounts of weight you lift as your strength improves.
 
Circuit Training
 
This is a good choice for the person who likes to challenge themselves. A gym with a good circuit system will be able to work every part of your body. You can increase the weights on each machine as you improve, and most gyms have a computer system customized to your personal workouts and goals to help you stay motivated.

 

Neighborhood Fitness for Work Out Flunkies

I have a funny relationship with fitness and working out. I never caught on to aerobic classes, kick boxing or the zumba craze. I felt like a dork – stepping left when everyone else was stepping right. I couldn’t afford personal pilates lessons with those crazy contraptions. I ordered the “at home” equipment so I could look like Christie Brinkley – forget it. I like yoga; but couldn’t make the classes consistently – and I am down right bored with the drone of the gym.

I still get out and bike sometimes, hike sometimes, swim sometimes, ski sometimes –but creating a consistent fitness routine eludes me. If you want to get right down to it, having coffee with a friend trumps working out any day of the week.  Apparently, I am known as one of those “in-between” people: not a total couch potato, but not in top shape either.

Does this sound like you? Bored with the gym, or need to save money on monthly dues? This week I am starting a three part series on how to incorporate fitness into your everyday life, with the guidance of personal trainer, Terry O’Hara. In the next three weeks we will explore “neighborhood fitness,” followed by tips from the pros, and nutrition basics.

The national guidelines for fitness from mypyramid.gov  (http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/physical_activity_amount.html)  state that to maintain established fitness levels- you must be vigorously active for a minimum of thirty minutes per day – every day. If you want to lose weight, or to maintain weight loss, vigorous activity is required for 60-90 minutes per day.  “That’s pretty aggressive,” said O’Hara. “All the articles that say you can get flat abs in 10 minutes per day are wrong. To affect change, you have to make it a part of your life."

O’Hara took me on as a bit of a pet project last year, and created a “neighborhood fitness” program for myself, and a group of girlfriends. Instead of going to the gym or a class, we met in a local parking lot, and spend an hour jogging through neighborhoods, huffing and puffing up stairs, stopping at a nice view for group squats, using park benches for push ups, and ending with plank style ab crunches, and giggle-filled kegel tightening exercises. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kegel-exercises/WO00119)  Think, “Desperate Housewives Does Basic Training.”

It was one of the toughest workouts I had ever done, and a total paradigm shift for me. Everyone loved it; we felt energized, sore and happy. We got our cardio, strength training, and all the week’s gossip in one tidy little hour! The numbers grew each week, and all of us were challenged in some particular way. Some could hardly jog a block, while others zipped along. Some struggled with the push-ups and others with stretching. We learned that the gym had actually decreased our overall fitness level – by becoming stagnant with the same exercise pattern over and over again.

“Everyone has to find the goal of what their body needs the most,” explained O’Hara. “For some, the goal is to lose body fat to expand their range of movement. Some forgot to do resistance training their whole life – and can’t do a single push up. Others have a difficult time running, because their heart is so tired and weak. In a group of relatively fit people, there is a huge difference in what they need to develop.”

In between group workouts, the concept of getting in that sixty minutes per day became something to achieve in short increments. I discovered there were plenty of ways I could sneak something in. While waiting for the school bus, I could stretch and do push ups in the yard. In the evenings, I started doing exercises during the commercials of my favorite show – and made it a contest to see how much I could do, before flopping back on the bed for the next installment of Grey’s Anatomy.

One of my challenges is running. I could not keep up with the group, even though I was the tallest. I do not like to run long distances, and consistently cramp with a side stitch. I asked O’Hara for other ideas to help me get that “vigorous exercise” under my belt, in the shortest amount of time. She surveyed my neighborhood for options, and noticed I have a fairly steep hill on my street. Viola! My “neighborhood fitness” homework was to run UP the hill, and then walk back down again about 4 times. Running UP was the opposite of what I wanted to do!

It worked. I could jog up the hill without a side stitch, and got to the top gasping for air.   Running up a steep hill is just enough to get the heart pounding, and walking down offers time to get the breath back. The unexpected challenge of my hill inspired even the most fit to show up and give it a try. Imagine plenty of moans, groans and expletives as middle aged Facebook junkies heave themselves up and down a sleepy suburban hill. The rewards were quick; as the hill got a tiny bit easier to manage each time, if we kept it up.

I am still a work out flunkie. I still don’t exercise every day, or nearly as much as I should. However, I now know that I don’t need a gym, yoga mat or fancy equipment to be healthy. In fact, I can strengthen my body more than I ever imagined on the swing set, park bench or the municipal building’s concrete stairs.

Do you have any “neighborhood fitness” ideas, and are you a fellow work out flunkie? Love to hear your comments below. Time to lace up my sneakers – after my latte, that is…..