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FitLink Newsletter: January 15, 2009 - Two Weeks Isn't Too Late

We hope you are enjoying new things in 2009-new friends, new opportunities, new workouts. How are your resolutions going? Be honest. If you have been holding to your word, then take time out to congratulate yourself. Now is a great time to help those around you who need support.

If you feel like you haven't done as much as you said you would, this is a good time to re-evaluate your goals and your commitment. Succeeding in lifestyle changes does not have to be daunting. Here are three easy things you can do to help you get back on track. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3...

Once each Day: Sweat
You can break a sweat in ten minutes or less. Taking a brisk walk, walking up stairs, or doing a combination of strengthening exercises without stopping can all help you break a sweat when you don't have time to get to the gym, workout, shower, and change clothes again. Any activity is definitely better than no activity. However, if you want big results, you'll have to exert big effort.

Twice each Day: Do something good for yourself
Do two things a day to make yourself feel better. If you work at a desk all day, make sure you get up at least twice to take a walk around the office or walk outside for some fresh air. If you are on your feet all day at work, sit down and stretch out your lower back a couple of times and relax your legs. If you work at home, stop what you are doing and enjoy a cup of tea for a few minutes or read 10 pages of a good book. Taking time out to appreciate your day is key to your overall well-being.

Thrice each Day: Eat a healthy meal
Take a look at the "Shapely Tip" below to know why you shouldn't skip breakfast, the meal that most people skip. It is much better for your energy as well as your waistline to spread out your daily caloric intake over the course of three meals (or better yet, three meals and three snacks) instead of one or two big meals.

Following these three tips is a great way to get started or to keep going. The most powerful thing you can do to help hold yourself accountable is to create a support network. Having friends support you and being able to return the favor is an essential component to making lasting lifestyle changes. We all know how easy it is to back out of promises to ourselves, and we also know how hard we work to keep our promises to others. If you don't already have a support network, you can find workout partners or activity groups who share similar interests in the FitLink community.

Focus muscle: Abdominals

This edition of the FitLink newsletter is featuring abdominals. The abdominals are made up of four main muscles: internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominis, and transversus abdominis. Listed below is a ten minute workout that you can do with no equipment to strengthen all four muscles.

New FitLink Workout: All Around Abs

These should be done after a short warm up and can be done in any order. This workout will work each of the four main ab muscles. Use the variations provided under the main exercise if you want to make the workout easier or more advanced.

Remember to vary your ab routine often to keep your muscles "guessing" and stimulated by different positions.

Dead Bug Crunch
Oblique Engagement Advanced Heel Slide

The abdominals are responsible for supporting your trunk, stabilize your body and help you to balance. You should train your ab muscles 3-5 days per week, and can train them 6-7 days a week if you have not fatigued them enough to need extra recovery time. Rarely do the abs get as sore as other muscles because you are using the weight of your torso to strengthen them, unlike using dumbbells when strengthening muscles of the limbs. The exception would be if you progressively overload the abdominals by using an ab machine with external resistance. It would be better for most people to practice a daily routine to counteract the tightness of the lower back and hip flexors and keep the abdominals reminded of their 'job'. In order to get your abdominals to work to their potential, mix up the order of your exercises, the repetitions and sets, and the positions your body is in while strengthening them. Your body adapts to the same stimulus, so vary your workout often to prevent a plateau.

Shapely Tip: Start out Right!

You've often heard that breakfast is the meal of champions. One of my friends likens a day without breakfast to a car trip without a stop at the gas station for a fill up. By eating breakfast, you can jump start your metabolism and brain power for the rest of the day. When you eat breakfast, your body doesn't get afraid that you are going to starve it and thus retaliate by storing food as fat, but instead burns more calories as you munch. You are also less likely to binge later in the day from a blood sugar dip. Try something with high fiber, such as fruit and whole grains, along with a bit of healthy fats such as nuts or soy milk, which both give you an added boost of protein. Try to avoid sugary cereals (more than 9g sugar per serving) or breakfast bars. You're well on your way to having a healthy day, and you haven't even hit the office yet!

Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Pie

  • ½ cup applesauce or pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup sugar or agave nectar
  • 2 eggs (or vegan egg substiute, or egg beaters for lower cholesterol)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cup dry oatmeal
  • ½ cup raisins or other dried fruit (frozen berries works great as well)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat first two ingredients. Mix in the eggs, baking powder, and oatmeal. Gently fold in fruit. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.