Bill Clinton

Cover of Bill Clinton

 

Former President Bill Clinton who’s well known and documented love of things fried and fatty (no offense intended Monica) had literally turned over a new “leaf”.

Mr. Clinton in an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says that he has eliminated eggs, dairy and meat from his diet and now ” I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat”

Since leaving the White house the president has lost more than 20 pounds but unbeknownst to him at first his health issues were more serious than just being over weight. He was genetically predisposed to heart disease and his old ways of eating what ever he wanted was about to kill him.

Less than 4 years after leaving office he complained about tightness in his chest and had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to his heart. In 2010 he had another operation to install 2 stents.

Since then the ex-president has been working with Dr. Dean Ornish, who had created a diet and lifestyle that he claims can actually reverse heart disease.

Dr Ornish is well known in the medical community because prior to his findings it was thought impossible to reverse heart disease without doing a medical procedure.

Says Mr. Clinton, “All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy,”


From omnivore to vegan: The dietary education of Bill Clinton – CNN.com.

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How little exercise is enough?

A recent article in US Today suggest that as little as 15 minutes a day has significant health benefits. The article reports on an eight year study done on over 114,000 subjects and the results have been repeated by several other smaller studies around the world.
Fifteen minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, like a brisk walk was shown to reduce the  participants risk of death by 14 percent and added three years to their expected life span.

More is better
Of course it’s still recommended that adults do at least 30 minutes of exercise 4 – 6 days a week but this should motivate those who may feel that if they don’t have the time or are otherwise unable to do 30 minutes than there is no need to even start.
Sure more may be better but even half of whats recommended is still beneficial.

Fitness trainer Billy Blanks shows a female wo...

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Benefits of a Personal Fitness Trainer if You’re Over 50

I’ve been hitting the gym for a few years now and until recently had never really considered using a personal trainer.  I don’t know if it’s the male pride thing or that I think that I can just simply figure it all out or what. You know kinda like the man who gets lost on an out of town trip yet refuses to stop and ask one of the locals for directions.

Well I finally decided to try one out. The new gym that I joined a few months ago offers one free session with a trainer with membership and to be honest I didn’t even think about it but they called me one Saturday and I decided what the heck and made an appointment.

The benefits I walked away with from just one session?

  1. Motivation and Accountability.  OK, I’m somewhat of a gym regular so this isn’t a real big issue with me, but it so happened that the day that I had set the appointment for I just wasn’t feeling it and probably would’ve skipped going to work out had it not been for the commitment I had made to someone else. I understand that for the trainer time is money and If I didn’t show up he might not get paid (even though this was a free lesson for me)
  2. Personalized workout plan based on my own fitness goals. As someone over 50 that has managed to lose almost 20 pounds over the last 5 years or so my main goal now is to maintain or possibly increase my lean muscle mass as I age. This is important to keep my metabolism high and fight sarcopenia. The trainer pointed out that I was basically doing the same routine that I had done to lose the weight and that some of that might be counter productive to my new goals. He suggested a few easy changes that should help me get to where I want to be.
  3. Technique and safety. I had mostly picked up all my technique from watching other people in the gym who looked like they knew what they were doing. I mean they looked like whatever they were doing was working for them so why wouldn’t it work for me right? Well it tuned out that my trainer says that 80% of the people in there hadn’t a clue of the proper and SAFE way to lift weights. They were basically doing what I had done! Just copying someone else’s bad moves. He showed me how I could get a lot more resistance (and effectiveness) out of using a lot less weight IF I used proper form. This would also decrease the likelihood of injury which can be a major concern for someone trying to get fit over 50.
  4. Variety. Lastly I was glad to add some new exercises to my routine so that it wouldn’t be so routine. (ok, bad joke but you get the point) He gave me list of different exercises that I could do every day for 2 weeks and never repeat the same one unless I wanted to.

So bottom line? Will I continue to use the trainer? Probably. But not on  a regular basis. I think it’s good to get a little professional advice occasionally no matter what your current fitness or fitness knowledge is. We can all learn a little something but for me I like flying solo so I’ll just make a plan to gt one session a month. Call it a tune up. I discussed this with the trainer and he was all right with it, thought it was a good idea considering I already have a consistent record of working out going on.

My suggestion to you would be to find a gym in your area that offers a free trail or maybe a single session purchase and give it a shot. I found it worthwhile even if I would have had to pay for it!

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Here are two really great beginner exercises from Men’s Health (don’t worry, they’re good exercises for women too) that can be done at home that will really raise your basil metabolic rate (BMR) therefore burning extra calories long after the exercises are over.
The routine is based on using simple, easy to do moves in what’s called a “count down” sequence. 15 reps of each then 14 reps without stopping and so on until you reach 1 rep.
This will probably be too challenging for some but the great thing is it’s scalable and you can start at fewer if you choose, the author of the article suggest eight.
The article contains instructions on how to do the routines, both written and excellent video (although I would wager nobody over 50 doesn’t remember doing squat thrust). Oops, I guess I gave away one of the exercises. Told you it was a simple one that you could do at home. Now click on the link below to find out what the other one is.
http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/training-day/201108/lose-fat-2-exercises

resistance bands for beginners

One of the best and most versatile pieces of fitness equipment is often times NOT found in a lot of gyms and fitness centers. The lowly resistance or exercise bands are sometimes thought not worthy of the same status as free weights, treadmills, elliptical machines or some of the other resistance weight machines  found in the gym but nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going to the gym when I have the time to get a good workout in, but pound for pound (and dollar for dollar) resistance bands can deliver a top notch workout in a fraction of the time without ever leaving home. Here are 4 important facts to consider about the advantages of including a set of bands in your fitness routine.

  • Low Cost – A quick check on-line will show you that there is a wide range of prices when it comes to resistance bands. I found some priced below $5 for a simple band and some sets with multiple bands of different lengths and handles that included guides and videos that were over $100. Personally since I use them only as ONE of the tools in my fitness tool box I have a few of the cheaper ones of varying length but I can easily imagine someone using them as their primary exercise tool of choice.
  • No Gym Required – For a lot of people, myself included at times, going to a gym for a workout can be a hassle. While I am lucky that my gym is only 5 minutes away and on my way to or from work (see Choosing the right Gym), there are still days when I don’t have the time or want the hassle of changing and showering at the gym. On days like that I can get a perfectly fine workout in the comfort and privacy of my own home in less than an hour. There are other times when I just CAN’T make it to the gym like when I’m on vacation. This leads us to the 3rd important fact about Resistance Bands.
  • Resistance Bands are Portable – Bands can be folded up and placed in a suitcase, carry-all, or even in the glove compartment. Many of the ones on the market today even come with their own little bag or carrying case.
  • Resistance Bands are for ANY fitness level – I am sure there are those that believe that resistance bands are great for beginners but can’t deliver the desired resistance for someone who has been training for a while and already at a mid to upper level of fitness. WRONG! Using the right form and taking advantage of the varying angles of motion that these bands offer you can get just as much resistance (or as little) as you can handle. Not only that but when you’re lifting weights you only feel the resistance one way, on the lift, while bands give you resistance though out the entire motion! Not only are they perfect for any fitness level but they are suited for any age both the young and the fit over 50!

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How to Raise Your BMR | Fitness Over 50

Burn Calories While You Sleep

In the previous articles about the importance of calculating your Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR) and how it should be the main factor when you’re trying to decide how many calories you need to cut in order to lose weight we went over just what BMR really is. For the benefit of those that haven’t read the previous articles I’ll go over what BMR is real briefly.

Basil Metabolic Rate is simply the amount of energy, measured in calories, that your body needs to maintain your current weight if you were in a state of complete rest. It’s the fuel that you r body needs to perform it’s most basic – hence basil – tasks like breathing, heart beat, digesting food controlling body temperature, regulating hormones and anything else the body simply must do to survive. Depending on your level of activity these calories can make up from half to seventy percent of all your daily caloric expenditures.

As mentioned this is energy or calories burned in a restful or even sedate state just to stay alive so if we can increase this number then we will burn more calories 24 hours a day, even while we’re sleeping!

Factors that control Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Among different individuals BMR can vary greatly. We all know someone that seems to be able to eat whatever, whenever they want well into their 50′s, 60′s and 70′s and seem to never gain a pound. We should all be so lucky.

The main factors in your own personal BMR are:

  • Body size and composition (lean muscle burns calories at rest – fat doesn’t)
  • Parent’s body size and composition
  • Sex (male or female, not whether you’re having enough)
  • Age (BMR decreases two percent per decade after the age of 20)
  • Body temperature (some people have a normal temp that’s higher or lower than others thus burning more or less calories at rest)
  • Exercise (I know I said BMR is about calories burned at REST but I’ll explain later how certain kinds of exercise will continue to burn calories HOURS after you finish your workout)
  • Diet (not only what you eat but more importantly for BMR WHEN you eat)
  • Stress
  • Sleep

There are many other factors but this list covers the main ones. As you can see some of them like heredity, sex and age are completely out of your control but believe it or not the main deciding factor outside of genetics is very much within your ability to change.

Building Lean Muscle the key to increasing Basil Metabolic Rate

It’s a fact. Muscle burns calories even at rest. The amount has been exaggerated over the years to as much as 30 calories per day for every pound of lean body muscle mass but current research shows that the real number is more like six.  Fat burns almost NO calories at rest maybe one or two at the most so muscle mass burns about 3 times as many calories AT REST than fat. Remember this is per pound! It can add up over time.

Resistance Training Burns Calories for Hours

The body converts food to energy when the body needs it at a cellular level in whats know as the mitochondria. The mitochondria is also responsible for providing the energy for rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue. As we age our bodies number of mitochondria naturally decreases leaving us with fewer of these little calorie burning internal furnaces. Exercising regularly has been shown to slow down the loss of these cells and even increase their number. This happens as the demand for immediate energy is received by the body while we are working out, especially during aerobic exercise  when it needs it although this spike in caloric burn last only for a short time after the aerobic activity is over only burning a lot of calories during and immediately after the exercise .

Resistance training works in another way to stimulate these cells for an even longer period. Resistance or weight bearing exercise actually tears down the muscle tissue, this is why it’s recommended to never work out the same muscle groups two days in a row. The body needs time to repair this cellular muscle damage and this is what the mitochondria does even while you’re at rest or sleeping! those little internal furnaces are still at work hours after you’ve left the gym repairing the damage and burning the calories while it does so.

Those are the two easiest ways to increase your at rest metabolism. Increase lean muscle mass by including some resistance training in your activities.

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Counting Calories

The Burger King "BK Stacker" sandwic...

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In our previous article about Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR)  we explained why it’s so important when making a weight loss plan to first know how many calories your own particular body needs each day simply to provide you with the energy it needs to perform all your daily tasks and functions. This as we have shown varies depending on factors such as age, gender, height and current weight.

In order to lose any weight and more importantly SUSTAIN any weight loss we must consume fewer calories daily than we need according to our BMR (use the BMR calculator found on this page if you haven’t calculated your Basil Metabolic Rate yet).

Determining Your Current Caloric Intake

This is extremely important and a step that is often skipped when trying to lose weight. Often one will just try to start cutting back on the calories in an attempt to shed some pounds without first considering exactly how many calories they actually need to eliminate from their daily intake to achieve the results they desire. In my opinion this lacks focus and doesn’t always work.

Consider this, let’s say an inactive person that weighs 180 lbs is determined to lose weight. This person decides he or she will eliminate a few things from their daily eating habits and cut back on about 500 calories a day. Sounds like a good plan right?

Not necessarily!

Unless this person understands that in the BMR for a person of his weight and activity level is about 2150 calories a day and to lose any weight he must drop below that level 500 calories a day may not be enough. What if he’s already unknowingly consuming 3000 calories. Well cutting back just 500 calories would bring him down to 2500 which means in a months time he would have actually GAINED 3 pounds! (BTW there is a way that his plan could have worked and we’ll go over that later).

Keep a Journal

Determining your daily caloric intake isn’t as difficult as most people initially think. No you don’t have to keep a list of every food on the planet and how many calories they all contain. The easiest way is to simply keep a journal or record of everything you eat for just one week!

That’s right one week. You see for most people 80 – 90 percent of what we eat is the same from week to week. As adults we already know what we like and we tend to stick with it. So for one week don’t even bother trying to keep up with how many calories are in every thing you put in your mouth, just make sure to make of list of what food it was, make sure to keep the days separate so as to be able to determine daily calories later.

At the end of the day or if you choose you  can wait until the end of the week you can use this USDA Nutritional Database to see how many calories each of the foods you consumed contained. I like to print the chart out for quick reference when I do occasionally eat something out of the norm for me.

Using this chart and your journal you can easily determine how many calories you are consuming a day. Are they more than your BMR? If so then you are slowly adding on more weight. Reduce the number below that of your BMR and the pounds WILL drop off. Reduce it to 100 calories below your BMR and you will lose 10 pounds over the next year, 200 below would add up to 20 pounds and so on and so on.

Okay now that we’ve covered the calorie side, remember in our earlier example I showed that our 180 lb inactive person that reduced calories by 500 would still gain weight if he was consuming 3000 calories before cutting back. I said that there IS a way to still make his 500 calorie reduction work towards a weight loss right? The answer is:

Part 4 – Raising Your Basil Metabolic Rate

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BMR

Have you ever heard someone say, “I followed the diet plan but I still didn’t lose a pound” or “How come she seems to be able to eat whatever she wants and doesn’t gain an inch while I can hardly look at food without gaining?”

BMR the REAL key to losing weight

Basil Metabolic Rate or BMR is simply a measure of the amount of calories your body needs daily to sustain it’s basic functions like breathing, heart beat, sleep and all the involuntary functions that we do to just stay alive. We all do these things and although the necessary calories vary with age, sex, how tall you are and how much you weigh they are pretty much the same for people who fit into the same groups based on these characteristics.

As you can see BMR is based on some things that are to a great degree out of our control but fortunately for us that is only half of the story. You see BMR also takes into account the calories that we need to carry out all of our voluntary functions that we do during our normal day. Work, play, exercise, making dinner, walking to the store. They all add up to our total Basil Metabolic Rate. These voluntary functions can vary GREATLY from person to person and that’s why some of us can eat almost whatever we want and never gain a pound and some of us can’t. It’s all about the level of activity we maintain during our normal day. To lose we must first find out what our own BMR is and see if we’re actually eating more calories during the day than we need and if so we have two choices. Get more active or eat fewer calories, actually we get the greatest benefit from doing both!

How to calculate your BMR

There are a few different ways to get your BMR. One of the most complicated takes into consideration your gender, weight, body fat vs. lean mass and can be found here.

A simpler method is to just multiply your weight by 10.

example:  180 x 10 = 1800 calories

This is generally a good estimate to start with. Multiply this number by your activity level.

  • Inactive 20%
  • Semi Active (chores around the house) 38%
  • Active (moving all day and daily workout) 40%
  • Very Active (moving all day and involved in sports) 50%

example:   1800 x 40% (active) = 720 calories

Add these together

example:  1800+720 = 2520 calories

That means that in order to maintain a weight of 180 lbs this active person would have to consume 2520 calories a day. If the same person were inactive they would be able to consume only 2160 calories a day without gaining weight, that’s 360 calories less! Given that every 3500 calories add up to one pound in 10 days if 2 people that weighed the same 180 pounds ate the exact same 2520 calories a day and one was active and one not the inactive one would have GAINED a pound while the active one would have stayed the same.

Update – I have added a simple online BMR calculator that can be found by clicking the link to this Fitness Over 50 Tools and Calculators page.

Part 3 – Calculating Calories Consumed

 

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over 80 77.5-80.0 75.0-77.5 72.5-75.0 70.0-72....

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A new study (June 2011) done by the University of Washington looked at a U.S. county by county comparison of deaths over a 20 year period between 1987 and 2007. Their findings show that the life expectancy for women has decreased in some parts of the Southern U.S. and the life expectancy overall varies  a lot for both men and women in different parts of the country.

New York Leaps in Life Expectancy

Surprisingly Manhattan saw the largest increase in life expectancy with men gaining almost thirteen years and women more than seven. The biggest losers? Five counties in Mississippi and Alabama. In fact these counties had life expectancy rates comparable to El Salvador and Honduras.

Women catching up with Men

Over the last 50 years women have been increasingly become the target of tobacco manufacturers marketing campaigns and to steal a phrase from one of their most successful ads “you’ve come a long way baby”. Unhealthy lifestyles that include smoking, obesity, inactivity and other things that lead to heart disease and diabetes has a lot to do with the decline over the years of life expectancy among women.

To see where your county stands in this study follow the link to view an inter-active map.

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First let me be straight with you. This is NOT about losing 10 pounds over the next week or 30 days. As the title suggest it’s more of a simple approach that if done honestly WILL guarantee that you lose 20 pounds or more over the next year. Sure your results could come quicker if you simply tweeked the program a little but my intent is to make it as easy and “do-able” as possible.

Before we get into the details I’ll take a moment to share with you the over all picture so you can see what we’re up against and why making just a few simple changes in your every day living can add up to major weight loss over time.

What is “fat” anyway?

We all know that body weight or more specifically “fat” is the result of consuming more calories over time than you are able to “burn off”. One pound of body fat contains 3500 calories of energy. This is the body’s natural way of storing energy for future use. Of course in man’s early history when he spent a great deal of his time hunting, foraging and later working the land this stored energy or calories were constantly expended during the normal course of his day. Even in today’s world some people in really manually intensive occupations such as construction may burn as much as 500 calories in a single hour!

20 pounds = 70,000 Calories!

Okay so given that one pound of fat is 3500 calories 20 pounds would add up to 70,ooo calories! So even our aforementioned construction worker would have to work an extra 140 hours to lose 20 pounds without dieting. Seems like a lot right? But if he were to spread out this 140 hours over a years time it would be about 20 extra minutes a day!

Well believe it or not the same holds true for you. You see the key is the extra calories that we either burn or consume that really make all the difference. What’s “extra” for you of course isn’t the same as whats “extra” for the construction worker. He may use up 5000 calories a day on the job so any calories burned above 5000 would contribute to weight loss and anything consumed over 5000 calories would contribute to weight gain. Simple isn’t it.

The key is finding out how many calories YOU burn in the normal course of your day and how many you CONSUME. If you’re currently consuming more than your body needs to perform it’s daily duties than your next order of business is to either cut back and consume less or find ways to increase your expenditure or whats called your Basil Metabolic Rate.

Part 2 – Determining Your Basil Metabolic Rate

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