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The Bullhorn, Issue #026 -- Monthly Motivator for May 2008
May 15, 2008

Just the right push to succeed!

Motivation Peaks

One of the hardest phases to go through in maintaining your fitness is that time when you’ve reached a major goal or milestone. After a few days of basking in the glory of your achievement, you start to think, “Now what??”

Goals and milestones are critical for long-term success, but there is no finish line. There is no pinnacle that once you reach it, you’ve hit a permanent “Miller Time”. But yet that’s how most of us approach our goals. I just ran the Boston Marathon last month and I’m now in the “Now What?” stage. I’m finding it hard to muster up the enthusiasm for another goal. If I don’t sign up for a race or set another goal soon, I’ll start to flounder and lose a lot of the good habits that I’ve maintained over the last few years.

It reminds me of a good friend that did the NutriSystem diet a few years ago. He lost almost 30 pounds, celebrated all summer, and gained 40+ pounds by Christmas?! When the pre-planned meals stopped, he just went back to his old eating habits and then some. The most critical step in our fitness plan is “Step 5: Set your new fitness goals”. Sounds simple, but without setting a target on the calendar, we can lose our resolve and easily slip back into our old bad habits again.

There’s nothing wrong with a celebrating your accomplishments. Especially when it’s a long-term goal or one that you’ve been working towards for several months or even years. But after you reward yourself, pick another goal. Sign up for a 5k. Enter a fitness event like the Susan Komen 3-day walk or a local ½ or full marathon. These events are fun and will give you something to focus on and train for. Looking back on some of my goals, I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: the training or the race. That great feeling after an early morning jog or a good gym workout could set my mood for the whole day!

So, if you find yourself in this post-achievement funk…sharpen your pencil, get out a new training log and write down your next goal. The joy is in the pursuit!

Fire Up Your Metabolism

It’s used as an excuse; We blame it on our genes; It’s the subject of diet pills and fad diets…It’s our metabolism. But what is it really??

By definition, metabolism is the rate at which our body converts the nutrients in the food we eat to the energy that we need. Faster metabolisms have been associated with skinny people that can eat whatever they want. The rest of us complain that we walk by a bakery and gain weight?! But is there any merit in this theory that genetic metabolism is to blame? Most doctors and dieticians would say, NO!

There are some simple principals about metabolism that can help us harness and use it to our advantage. While some may naturally have a higher BMR (basal metabolic rate) than others, this will not make you skinny or fat. Our eating and exercise habits have a far greater impact on our metabolism, than the factors that we can’t control.

One way to increase our metabolism is to increase our muscle mass. A pound of muscle is estimated to burn between 10-20 times as many calories per day as a pound of fat. That’s significant. With an exercise program you’ll not only raise your metabolism through the exercise itself, but your metabolism will remain in high gear for a couple of hours afterward. And while you rest, the muscles that you stressed will be re-strengthening and re-building, creating additional muscle fiber which will burn additional calories around the clock!

What & how much we eat affects our metabolism. Our metabolism elevates when our bodies process foods. That being said, it’s better to eat 5-6 smaller snack-sized meals than it is to eat 3 large meals a day. The key for an effective diet is to restrict caloric intake to your activity level, allowing for a moderate deficiency. For example, if your BMR is 2000 calories per day and you run 3 miles (300 calories burned), you could eat approximately 2300 calories without gaining or losing a pound. If you eat 1800 calories you’ll lose 1/7 of a pound or one pound in a week (1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories). Check out this BMR calculator to estimate your metabolic rate.

Not eating enough will lower your metabolism. A goal of 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is a sustainable and healthy goal. If you restrict your calorie intake much lower than 800 calories per day, your ever-efficient body will reduce your metabolism by 10% or more as it goes into self-preservation mode. In addition, at just 800 calories per day you’ll feel pretty sluggish and will probably forego exercising and any other unnecessary movements…further decreasing your calories burned!

So what’s the bottom line? Metabolism is important and can help your health & fitness pursuits, but it should not be the focal point. Eating chilly peppers, citric pills, and other diet hoaxes are a sham. They might raise your body temperature ever so slightly, which in turn will faintly elevate your metabolism for 15-30 minutes. But these effects are negligible when compared to the effects of a good diet and exercise program. Use these fitness tools to stay on track. Best of luck!!

Exercise of the Month:

The lunge is a great exercise for your leg and gluteal muscles (butt). Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands at your side or on your hips. Start by putting your left leg forward and lower your body weight until your upper left leg is parallel to the floor (as pictured). Your left knee should almost touch the ground and your back should remain upright. Return to the starting position and repeat with the right leg. Be sure to transition gently from one leg to the next, as sharp movements can put undue strain on the knee. Once you get comfortable with this exercise, you can step up the difficulty by adding some hand-held weights.

New Pages!!

Every month, The Fitness Motivator adds new pages, updates and helpful resources to assist you in meeting your fitness goals. Some of these pages came about from YOUR ideas (thank you!), while others are based on personal lessons-learned. If you haven’t been on the site in awhile, here are just a few of the pages added since the last newsletter:

Boston Marathon '08 Race Report: Here's my report on what has to be the greatest footrace on earth!

Marathon Running Shoes: From 8 to 12 ounces...which racing flat will help you set a PR?

Marathon Lesson Learned: Here's the dos & don'ts I've compiled over the last 9 marathons...lucky for YOU, I've made plenty of mistakes?!

Sound Off!

If you have any feedback (positive or negative), success stories to share, or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you and we take all feedback, suggestions...and yes, even criticism very seriously. We’ll use this information to improve our newsletter and The Fitness Motivator site to help you and others like you attain your fitness goals.

Encouragement to Succeed!

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

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