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The Bullhorn, Issue #005 -- Monthly Motivator for August 2006
August 15, 2006

Just the right push to succeed!

Take a Vacation from Fitness!

Vacations are a mixed blessing. On one hand, they are a terrific opportunity to get away from life’s daily stresses, recharge your batteries, and spend time with your loved ones. On the other hand, it can unfortunately be a time when our good habits go out the window and may or may not re-start when we return. I’m a firm believer of indulging once in awhile, so I tend not to stress-out over eating out, ice cream cones, and lack of exercise for a few days. With that in mind, here are some fitness tips to help you prepare for vacation, minimize the damage, and get back on track when you return home:

  1. Pack lunches
    Unless you are going on a cruise, it may be worth your while to pack some low-calorie snacks and lunch items. This will not only be healthier than eating out, it will also be nicer on your wallet. If you’re able to reduce the eating out to dinners only, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary calories while still indulging yourself on the local vacation scene. I’d much rather carry a backpack with PB&Js and bottled water than stop for a Big Mac, fries, & a soda so that when dinner time comes around, I have no guilt over ordering whatever I want (including dessert!).
  2. Exercise disguised as Fun:
    There are lots of ways to get a good cardio workout without going to a gym. Depending on where you’re heading, bring your bikes, walk on the beach, play 18 holes, do some extra walking in the amusement parks. Be creative. There are lots of ways to ‘get out there’ and still have a good time. Do some research on the area where you’re heading, some of the most scenic parks in this world have the best paths to bike, run or jog on!
  3. Rest!
    That’s no typo. Rest is when our bodies heal, recover, and grow stronger…so sleep in, read a book on the beach, take a mid-day nap, or just hang out with your family or friends. You’re on vacation to enjoy yourself, so don’t feel guilty about lounging around more than normal. Stress + rest allows our bodies to rebuild and get stronger. Injuries usually occur when we leave out the “rest” part (when you get home be sure to re-introduce the “stress” part, though ;-).
  4. Take a “Measuring” Break
    Unless you really want to know how much weight you gained on vacation, don’t weigh yourself as soon as you get home. Chances are that number will either depress you or motivate you to overexert yourself. If you’re a runner and have taken a long break from running, you may want to leave your watch at home. Give yourself a week or two to get back into your routine of good habits.

Vacations and breaks from our daily routine are important. There’s more to life than fitness and exercise. Don’t be afraid to indulge in some of life’s simple pleasures. This only becomes an issue when life’s simple pleasures make there way into our daily routines and habits. If you plan right, you can lessen the impact of vacations on your fitness plan and still have a great time. If you’ve started and maintained good habits, it’s certainly OK to loosen the belt a bit for week or two…knowing that you’ll restart those good habits when you return. Enjoy the time off!

Pick the Right Foods

It’s far easier to gain a pound than it is to lose a pound. Unfair (you shout)! Well…you’re right. But think about the effort it takes to do a ½ hour cardio workout. Now think about how quickly you can eat a doughnut or a few cookies. Unfortunately, the two are not equivalent. It usually takes me a week to un-due the pounds put on by a ‘fun weekend’ or even just a night out. So what do we do?

We need to pick the right foods. While I’m still a believer in moderation; moderation alone is NOT the solution. Having just one Big Mac instead of two is probably not going to get us where we want to be. We still need to pick the right foods and make them part of our daily habits to ultimately succeed in the long-term. This doesn’t mean the elimination of our favorite indulgences, but it should mean that we indulge less often in those things that got us to where we don’t want to be in the first place. For example, I’ll never give up ice cream…but I’m trying to use smaller bowls and space out the time between scoopings ;-)

OK…what are the right foods, you ask? That’s the good news. The list is long and full of delicious foods. Here’s just a few ways satisfy your hunger without regretting it 5 minutes later:

  • Fruits & Vegtables
    I’m sure that somewhere within this broad category of foods, you can find a few that you like. A large apple may be 100 calories, but it’s rich in fiber and will fill you up better than a chocolate-chip cookie. A small sandwich baggie full of raw broccoli and carrots is also high in fiber and can be a great snack on the go. Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, have no fat, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Also, it takes longer to eat a piece of fruit than a cookie which will allow you to feel fuller faster.
  • Sugar-less drinks
    If you’re stuck in a routine that includes a lot of soda or other sugary drinks, consider water. If water is too bland and boring for your taste, squeeze a slice of lemon or lime in your water bottle. The calories in soft drinks just aren’t worth it. A few sodas a day can easily wipe out the progress of a daily ½ hour workout. Consider the alternatives – you might find something better.
  • Dry Cereal
    There are many cereals out there that only have 110-130 calories in a 1-cup serving. Pay particular attention to the amount of sugar (try to stay less than 10 grams per serving), and the amount of fiber (try to get at least 1 gram or more). A small bowl of cereal can snuff hunger pangs just as good as a handful of potato chips with far less caloric consequences. Rice Crispies , Special K, and Cheerios are just a few that give you a good ‘bang for your buck’.
  • Check out the Glycemic Index
    The Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how various foods impact our blood sugar. How can GI help us? Foods with a lower GI gradually raise your blood sugar and sustain the level for a longer period of time than foods with a high GI. So a food like pasta with a low GI will have you feeling satisfied longer than a food like white rice (very high GI). There are many good foods with low GI values. Use these foods to hold off your hunger and maintain your energy level
  • If you’re trying to lose weight, your goal is to burn 3,500 more calories than you eat for each lost pound. This effort takes a lot of patience and persistence. Use the right foods to help you out. There are many foods that can fill you up with out filling you out. You can find out more information on The Fitness Motivator website about good snacks, nutritional data tables, Glycemic Index, and much more. Good luck in your efforts!

    Exercise of the Month:

    Disappointed? Were you hoping for a flashier exercise? Walking is a terrific exercise for our heart, lungs, and legs, yet our society makes it out to be an inconvenience. Walking affords us all of the benefits or running with less impact and stress on our bodies. May be getting that parking spot 2 blocks away from work is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps the elevator being down is not all that bad after all. How about walking around outside for your lunch hour instead of eating at your desk? If you have errands that are less than a mile away, take a few extra minutes and try the shoe-leather-express! Walking engages not only our leg muscles but our core muscles as well, as you transfer weight from one foot to the other. Walking is low impact and low stress, yet it provides some great long-term health benefits. Try squeezing in a walk when you can and reap the benefits of mankind’s oldest exercise!

    Keep up the great work & stay focused on your goals. Best of luck!

    Encouragement to Succeed!

    P.S. - Please feel free to forward this to a friend!

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