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The Bullhorn, Issue #043 -- Monthly Motivator for October 2009
October 15, 2009

Just the right push to succeed!

Fitness Audit

There are so many weight loss myths out there. Have you heard them? You know…that guy or gal in the office that insists that they work out and watch what they eat but can’t seem to lose any weight?! It must be genetics they say.

It’s very easy to latch on to those simple answers. We all what an easy solution to our problems…and maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge for all of us. But sometimes the solution is just takes some detective work!

Our boss sent out some recent guidance on safe work practices that called on us all to be intrusive leaders, which he defined as asking questions so both you and the listener are uncomfortable…wow…that’s great advice! Think about it. We are so quick to accept things at face value, that we often don’t ask questions or make statements like, “So what?” or “Prove it”…but we should…especially when it comes to our health.

So let’s embark on a fitness audit, shall we? For giggles, measure out that morning bowl of cereal or that bag of snacks that you pack in your lunch. I have been packing dry cereal and a piece of fruit for my lunch for a few years now…and what I used to count as 300 calories, I’ve come to find out was closer to 500 calories?! That ziplock sandwich bag holds 2.75 cups of cereal. And if I’m packing Honey Nut Cheerios, as an example, that’s 400 calories just for the cereal alone! (regular Cheerios is 300 calories for the same amount).

Another major oversight of mine has been my scale “fudge factor”. I weigh myself at the same time every day (post run) and would offset my measurement by 3-4 pounds for clothes…why not, right? Turns out my running clothes, shoes included, weigh less than 2 pounds! I’ve been much happier since I re-shifted my starting point weight to reality and weighed in from there.

A few years ago, I got my first GPS Watch. I was thrilled with its precision, accuracy, and map interface…until I found out that my “5-mile” course was 4.86?! Big deal, you say? Well, if I run that daily course 180-200 times per year…that’s 25-28 miles a year…and almost a pound of fat that I did NOT burn. Not to mention my pace was slower than I thought.

Some of you may not see the merit in such precision or the need for a fitness audit…to which I would respond…what are you afraid of? If you want to improve your fitness and health, you need to be honest with yourself. There’s no benefit to fooling yourself with false food log entries, work outs, or weight measurements. Giving yourself the “benefit of the doubt” in this arena…is not benefit at all. We need a good cold dose of reality…an audit…a measuring cup calculation…a calibrated bathroom scale…a honest assessment of where we are and where we want to go.

Check out the fitness resource page for some tools and calculators to help get you started or back on track.

Weight Loss Mystery

I’ve been a long distance runner for many years and counting calories off & on for almost 4-5 years…and I still am baffled by some of my weight loss and weight gain trends. It seems to me that I can cut back on what I eat for several weeks and lose just 1-2 pounds, while other times I’ll lose 3-4 pounds over a weekend of gluttony?? It can be infuriating to make any sense out of it!

Sometimes, I blame these fluctuations on hydration levels or big meals, but over many months I’ve found some trends that make a bit more sense to me…

  1. Weight loss is much quicker and noticeable when my calorie deficit is 500+ calories per day vice 300-400 calories a day. I think that my body is able to adjust for slight discrepancies by adjusting metabolism whereas it responds to a larger deficit by shedding unnecessary cargo (fat) quicker.
  2. I’ve also found that there are certain weights that my body seems to gravitate to…almost as if I have set points. Once I start losing weight I quickly get to the next set point and level off at a frustrating plateau. It then takes another big push to fall the 4-5 pounds down to my next ‘set point’. Weight loss for me is definitely non-linear despite the calorie equation!
  3. A moderate amount of rest and over-eating days have had zero negative impact on my short-term weight. And by moderate, I mean a weekend or two a month of zero activity and zero calorie counting. Conversely, I’ve seen zero short-term benefit to a weekend of intense exercise and hard-core calorie restriction. So I guess the takeaway is short-term efforts have little impact on our long-term goals.

Weight loss and our overall fitness depend on steady habits. Our bodies are much more complicated than a gasoline engine…and predicting short-term results can be very frustrating. We can avoid these frustrations by taking a different approach: try weekly weigh-ins instead of daily; try cutting back on certain foods before you cut them out; try setting monthly goals for exercise mileage instead of daily. All of these changes may help you get one step closer to cracking the weight loss code, and further away from the short-term frustrations.

Product Review of the Month:
Vibram Five Fingers

Vibram Five Fingers

This month’s product review is on what I affectionately call, “My Silly Shoes”. My cross country team gets quite a chuckle out of my running shoes, but I’ve found them to benefit my training enough to endure their laughs.

In the 6 weeks week that I’ve been wearing them, I’ve actually noticed a few people at work and in the neighborhood wearing them, too. It may take our society a while to embrace a barefooted approach and the look of a gloved foot...but it took my legs no time at all!

From leg strengthening to an increased stride rate, these “shoes” have given my routine quite a boost. If interested, check out my full Vibram Five Fingers product review. Happy running!

Exercise of the Month:
One-leg Hill Hops!

Hopping up hills on one foot is a great plyometric exercise that can increase your leg strength and speed. The muscles of your leg and foot will adjust to keep your balance, as they push against gravity to get you up the hill. So you’ll be getting a nice strength workout that works the calf muscles, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Try a gentle hill and one leg at a time going up. If it’s painful, shorten the hill or start on a level surface. This exercise has helped athletes that want to add some explosive speed, like running backs, sprinters, and soccer players…give it a try!

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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