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FitLink Newsletter: June 26, 2009 - Get your body ready for summer!

Your mind is probably more than ready for summer; is your body ready? If you don't think so, "no sweat." It is never too late. Think of the first day of summer, June 21, as inspiration to crank up the intensity of your workouts and your commitment to eating healthy foods.

If you are planning on going on vacation this summer and peeling off some of your outer layers of clothing, you might be thinking of toning up your body. Whether you want to be able to hike or surf for hours or just look good lounging poolside, you have time to get your body ready. Instead of crash-dieting or working out until you pass out, just adjust your eating and drinking habits and make your workouts more efficient in order to fast-track your way towards success. If you are desiring to lose a few pounds, make sure you increase your activity level in addition to paying attention to caloric intake instead of simply eating less as that can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to maintain your weight in the long run. Experts say that you should aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Anything more than that should be monitored by a physician.

Your goals should include being active several times per day, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. Doing so requires energy which means your body will be using energy around the clock, which helps create energy, burn fat, and eventually give you the toned body you are looking for. Staying active for the majority of the day instead of sedentary will help you propel your success forward faster than just one workout per day will. During the day, be active whenever you have the chance: do heel lifts while waiting for your coffee to heat, do arm circles while you watch tv, do mini-squats on your lunch break, and take the stairs any time you enter or exit a building. If you work in an office setting and are seated in meetings most of the day, make sure you take a walk at lunch. If it's too hot outside and you don't want to sweat in your work clothes, just walk around in the building or up a few flights of stairs. It's okay to rest after 5 flights to bring your heart rate down so that you don't start sweating in your suit; once you catch your breath, do another 5 flights. If you don't usually workout in the morning, take a ten-minute walk before getting in the shower and do your main workout after work. Or, if you exercise before work, take a walk after dinner. Adopting these habits will keep your body constantly burning energy instead of storing it.

Your goal should also include eating several times per day. Every time you eat, your body is informed that you are not in a famine; since food is available, your metabolism stays revved up which means your body is burning energy instead of storing it. Ideally, you should eat 3 main meals and 3 snacks; meals should be between 400-500 calories and snacks should be between 150-300 calories, adjusting slightly for your age and activity level. Eating smaller amounts of calories several times per day instead of consuming a large amount of calories at one sitting means that your body constantly uses those calories as energy instead of being forced to send the extra calories to your fat cells for storage. That would be fine for survival cases (like if you are hiking in the Himalayan mountains or live in a country where food may not be available for several days), but not when you are trying to decrease your bodyfat percentage.

Plan your workouts into your schedule every day, stay consistent and be smart about your intensity level. Working out too hard too soon will risk injury which will slow you down. Balance your hard efforts with recovery time; get eight hours of sleep and take a day off if you are too sore to execute exercises with proper form. Have a great, active summer!

Special Welcome to: DCAC International Fitness Conference

Did You Know?

Your body rebuilds itself constantly; red blood cells can last four months while epithelial cells (cells that form the inner and outer protective surfaces of the body) last only a few days. Give your body the chance to begin anew. Each day you are creating the body you will have in the future. Drink lots of fresh water, eat 5 different colors of fruits and vegetables every day, and eat whole grains and lean protein while avoiding damaging actions such as smoking and excess alcohol.

Focus Muscle: Chest

This edition of the FitLink newsletter is focusing on the chest. Chest exercises are among the most popular. Men love to work their chest, and women like to be able to win the occasional push-up contest as well as look good in spaghetti-strap shirts. Listed below is a workout you can do for a well-rounded chest workout.

New FitLink Workout: Perfect Pecs Workout

This workout strengthens your chest, triceps and core. Start with 2 sets if you are new to this workout, then work your way up to 3 sets. Make sure you strengthen your back and biceps to balance out your upper body strength.

Chest Press Chest Fly Push-Ups
Standing Plank Decline Chest Press Incline Chest Press

Chest strength is essential for many sports as well as daily activities like pushing open heavy doors. Exercise your chest muscles 1-2 times per week, and alternate with 1-2 days of back exercises. Stretching your chest muscles is very important in order to prevent slouched posture, something that is quite common today because of spending so much time in front of the computer. Stretching one arm at a time in a doorway with your hand just above shoulder height for 30 seconds is a great stretch, as is laying on your back on an exercise bench or stability ball and letting your arms fall towards the floor with your palms facing up.

Shapely Tip: "Treat" yourself right

Remember the saying "you are what you eat"? It is true. If you eat fresh foods rich in nutrients and vitamins and low in fat, they will re-build your body with those building blocks. Treat yourself to those treats instead of the common "treats" like ice cream and cookies which are low in nutritional value. You will feel better and reach your goals faster.

Summer Fruit Salad

  • - 2 white peaches, sliced
  • - 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • - 1 pound seedless green grapes, halved
  • - 3 bananas, peeled and sliced
  • - 1 (8 ounce) container strawberry yogurt
  • - 1 Tbsp granola topping per serving

Place sliced fruit in bowl and fold in yogurt. Top with granola and serve immediately. Substitute your favorite fruit for any of the fruit listed, and experiment with different flavors of yogurt.