Avoid the Slippery Slope During the Holidays

Have you ever heard of the slippery slope that takes place during the holidays each year? Maybe you haven’t heard of it, but you may have lived it. The slippery slope takes place when people get out of their usual routine this month, do more sitting on the couch, and next thing they know their fitness level has declined and they have gained weight. It’s a slope you don’t want to be on, and for good reason!

I tell my personal training clients here in Vancouver, Washington that the slippery slope is no place to be during the holidays (or any time for that matter). It will leave you with a lot of regrets come January. Forget passing up on those workouts and sitting on the couch. Yes, life may be a bit busier this month, but if you stay the course you are much happier as a result. Here are a few tips for avoiding the slippery slope during the holidays:

Continue on. Determine when will be the best time to get your workout in all month. Mornings are typically best because you get it out of the way. You will avoid excuses that can come up later in the day. Set a goal to get your workouts in all month, regardless of what time you have to get them done.

  • Burn more. Find additional ways to burn more calories. This may include taking a parking space farther from the store, or taking the stairs at work. All of these additional calories burned will add up and help keep you on track.
  • No excuses. You are going to have parties, more stress, and other commitments this month. But decide that they will not become excuses for not getting your workouts in. Take on a “no excuses” mentality and find a way around ever challenge and excuse that comes up along the way.
  • Stay the course. It’s a month, you can do this. Before you know it you will be back into January, when everyone is on board wanting to lose weight and get in shape. If you don’t stay the course and keep your health and fitness first you will have regrets come next month.

Forget going down that slippery slope that will leave you feeling bad. Keeping up with your fitness routines this month will keep you feeling better, avoiding weight gain, looking great at those parties, having more energy, and avoiding feel bad next month. Whether you are in Vancouver, Washington and want to work with me, a personal trainer, to help keep you on track, or you want to go it alone, stay the course. You will be glad you did!

 

Holiday Weight Gain is Bull Shit – and Totally Unacceptable!

Yes, I said it. And I’m going to challenge you on it. You know what I mean. The very idea that just because it is the holiday season you have to succumb to the idea that you will gain anywhere form 4-10 pounds. That’s what is reported as being average during this time of year, right? Well I say enough is enough. That’s not acceptable. Let me explain why!

Just a few pounds you say, so it’s nothing to worry about? Not so fast! Some people may gain 4-5 pounds, but others may gain more like 8-10 pounds or even more. Just depends on how much you are willing to abandon your healthy lifestyle goals and eat to the point where you just put your health on the backburner. I say right now, on this holiday season, that this weight gain madness comes to a screeching halt. Here are some reasons why:

  • If you are like most people you will never lose whatever amount of weight is that you gain this holiday season. Rather, you will keep compounding it year after year. Right now you are still probably batting some pounds you gained from a holiday binge three years ago!
  • Most people tend to rationalize that they will go on a new diet and fitness plan at the first of the year. They figure they will lose whatever weight they are gaining at that time. Nonsense! The majority of people who start New Year’s fitness routines drop out just weeks later, walking away with that extra weight gain still on them.
  • The extra weight you gain during the holidays will put more stress on any health conditions you already have. This includes things like diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions. There is a 5 percent increase in the number of heart attacks experienced by people during the holiday season, and more fatal heart attacks on Christmas and the day after Christmas. Your body doesn’t need the added stress of holiday weight gain.
  • People tend to never lose the additional weight, so they create an “identity” and just use it as an excuse. They may chalk it up to getting older, start cutting back on how active they are, and will lose additional health as the years ago by, due to their inactivity.
  • You are a leader and it is important for you to be aware of the message and example you are setting for others in your life. Maintain your health through the holidays and others will often follow suit.

Deep-fried turkey fire balls, flammable Christmas trees, toy hazards, seasonal car accidents, and decorating disasters (think Chevy Chase movies here), provide enough stress and danger in your life at the holidays. No reason to add to that with additional weight gain!

As a personal trainer I work with people from all around the Vancouver, Washington area. When I explain my thoughts on holiday weight gain they say my initials (BS) stand for more than just Brian Stecker. They say they want to enjoy their holiday and don’t want their spirit ruined. They may even call me Brian “Scrooge” Stecker. I know this may be an intense idea, but I am going to provide you with a series of actionable strategies you can use over the next 6 weeks to safely get you through the holidays, help you avoid the holiday weight gain, and keep you healthy and fit.  My advice comes from 10 years of training and includes solutions that will keep you fit, and enjoying the holidays!

 

Reaching For Your Dreams – Age No Barrier

This past week there was something really inspirational that was on the news. You may have been one of the millions that saw it as I did. I’m talking about Diana Nyad and how she accomplished a goal at the age of 64. For those who feel that you reach a point where it is too late to reach for your dreams, she serves as an example that it is never too late!

Nyad was big news this past week because she did something that nobody else has done before. She swam the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Did you get that? At the age of 64, she swam 110 miles in order to set a record. She’s the first person to do this and yet she’s a baby boomer. No protection from the elements, bitten numerous times by jellyfish, and hungry, she finished the goal she set out to do.

Her message to people is that they should never give up. She didn’t, and neither should anyone else. She also demonstrated that you are never too old to chase your dreams. You only have one life to live, making it crucial that you go after that which you dream of. She had a dream of making that swim and she did not let her age become a barrier to her achieving her goal. Another one of her messages is that many things in life, such as what she accomplished, is not a solitary act. While she gets the credit for the swim, she actually had a team of people who were providing her the support in order to make it possible.

While Nyad had a team of 35 people, some people need merely to work with a personal trainer or coach in order to reach their goals. Many people don’t realize it, but we are often the biggest obstacles we face when wanting to achieve something. We have a goal in mind, but we talk ourselves out even going for it with piles of excuses. We place limits on ourselves that don’t need to be there.

The negative self talk that floats around in the heads of most people, including my personal training clients, has probably stopped you from achieving many goals. You have to believe in yourself and in your ability to accomplish things in order for it to become a reality.

Perhaps you are reading this and your own dream comes to mind. Maybe it has nothing to do with fitness, but rather with finances or business. Your dream may have been something more related to personal issues, spirituality, or romance.

It’s never too late. Whatever your dream was is still waiting for you. You may think that at your age you have lost the ability to achieve that dream. You may think you are too old now. But let me remind you that a 64 year old woman just swam 110 miles in shark and jellyfish infested waters in order to make her dreams a reality. She did it in 53 hours, after she had failed at attempting it on three other prior occasions.

So what is your dream? What’s stopping you from going after it?

Forget the excuses. Instead, put a plan into action and make it happen. You can do it. I believe in you and you will achieve your goals!

 

What Baby Boomer’s Should Focus on When it Comes to Fitness

As a personal trainer who works with a group of baby boomers in the Vancouver, Washington area I get asked a lot of questions. One of the most common questions I hear from people is that they are a baby boomer and they want to know what the most important thing is that they should be focusing on when it comes to having a fitness plan. It’s a question that I love to answer, because it let’s me know you are headed in the right direction!

First of all, let me say congratulations! If you are asking that question it means you are interested in improving your level of fitness. It is never too late to take control of your fitness, whether you are a baby boomer or not. There are so many benefits to being active in exercising and trying to be healthy. By being physically active you can help to prevent or delay the onset of disease, help to maintain your independence as you age, improve your strength and balance, and much more. In fact, research shows that those who are active reduce their chances of developing heart disease.

Now you that you know the benefits of a baby boomer getting fit, here are my personal recommendations for getting started:

  • See the doctor. You have probably heard this before, but it’s true and has to be said. Before you begin taking on an exercise or fitness program it is important to make an appointment with your doctor. You want to make sure you are physically well enough to take on getting fit at this time. Your doctor may want to do a few tests, including for bone density, as well as do a fitness assessment. This is an important step and should not be ignored.
  • Focus on mobility. Focusing on mobility is important in so many areas of your life as a baby boomer. You will want to have quality movements, including engaging in daily activities that involve pain free things you love to do. This will help you prevent injury strains, tears, and pulls.
  • Seek strength. Feel like you aren’t quite as strong as you used to be? You are right! It is estimated that people lose around 30 percent of their strength between 50 and 70 years old. This makes it that much more important that you engage in strength training. The loss of strength will impact your life in many ways, including in doing the things you enjoy and in being independent.
  • Build balance. As people age many of them experience balance issues. Many of them are related to problems such as vertigo, disturbances of the inner ear, and falls and injuries. Having balance issues can keep you from enjoying doing a lot of things, but it can also make life more dangerous, as you will be more prone to falls. You can help improve balance by getting off the machines, do more standing movements, and engage in something like Tai Chi.
  • Consider body composition. It is important to know what healthy is and what it looks like. It is equally important to have a healthy lifestyle, rather than just focusing on your diet. It’s about changing your mindset and personal identity to one that focuses on wellness and fitness.

So there are the top things that I think every baby boomer who is getting started with fitness should focus on. Once you do that, you will be well on your way to becoming fit. Whether you are in the Vancouver, Washington area, or beyond!

A Big Announcement!

I have a big announcement to make and I hope that you are all as excited about it as I am. Drum roll please… I’m doing a show!

That’s right, I have decided to participate in the upcoming Las Vegas Classic bodybuilding show. This is big news, right? Of course it is and it’s going to be great! The show takes place in Sin City, otherwise known as Las Vegas, on November 2, 2013. That means I have less than two more months to get busy preparing for this challenge. But I’m excited and ready to meet it head on.

You may be wondering why it is that I have decided to get involved in a body building show. After all, my career is that of a Vancouver, Washington-based trainer who specializes in working with baby boomers and senior citizens. Well, I have several reasons for wanting to get involved in this bodybuilding show, which include:

  • Inspiring my clients. That’s right! I want to be an inspiration to all my personal training clients. I think that one way to do that is to be in the Las Vegas Classic bodybuilding show. That’s because it will require me to work hard, achieve milestones, stay committed, and to achieve a goal that I have set. I am always harping to my clients about setting and achieving fitness goals. With this, I’m taking my own advice.
  • Gain understanding. Since I’m the personal trainer many people feel as though I don’t have a clue what they are going through on the other side of the table. Well this is going to give me an idea. A real good idea! With the training I will be doing for this bodybuilding event I will get a good taste of what it is that you all go through during training and setting goals. I believe the experience will help me in my personal training further down the road.
  • Personal reasons. I do have a few reasons that are personal and close to my heart. Some of you who personally know me may know these already. If you don’t that’s okay, this will leave you intrigued, and that’s a good thing! But just know that I do have some personal reasons as well.

An important thing for me to note here is that I have hired a coach to work with to train for this event. I heard many of you just say “why” in unison. There are a lot of reasons. Just like how you hire a personal trainer so you have someone to hold you accountable, identify and improve weak areas, focus a plan to reach the goal, etc., they are the same reasons that I am working with a coach for my training. Oh, and stay tuned because you will have the chance to win some prizes as we get closer to this big goal of mine! I look forward to sharing my experiences with you once I have been in the show.

 

James Gandolfini Dead at 51

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past week many people around the country gasped when they heard that talented actor James Gandolfini had died, at the young age of 51. This came as sad news as he, and the characters he brought to life, will be missed. While the autopsy is yet to be performed, the theory thus far is that he died of a massive heart attack, making this an ideal time to look at the issue – which is one plaguing our society.

Heart disease is a major issue, not just with the personal training clients I work with here in the Vancouver, Washington area, but around the nation. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women. In fact, they report that each year there are 600,000 people who die from cardiac arrest, about one out of every four deaths. But it doesn’t stop there. Roughly 715,000 people in the country have a heart attack each year, with 525,000 of those being first time heart attacks.

While we don’t know for sure what James Gandolfini’s diet and exercise habits were, we have an idea that they probably could have been better. His excessive weight and lifestyle habits may have contributed to the heart condition that led to his death. The good news about heart disease is that there are things you can do to lower your risks for it and even avoid it all together, which include:

 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Having excessive weight can lead to a variety of diseases and complications, of which heart disease is one.
  • Exercising regularly. One of the best ways to lower risks of heart disease is to keep your heart healthy by exercising most days of the week. A lack of regular exercise activity is so much more harmful than people realize.
  • Eating healthy. We all know this, but we don’t always live by it. Garbage in is going to result in problems. Load up on healthy foods. To lower heart disease risks eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources that are low or devoid of saturated fats and cholesterol (primarily found in animal based foods).
  • Avoiding smoking. If you don’t smoke, good for you, don’t start. If you do smoke find a route to quitting that will work for you. Don’t give up on quitting this habit. Try, try, and try again until it finally works.
  • Cutting back on the alcohol. Excessive alcohol can increase heart disease risks, so keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.

I guide baby boomers, and others, in the Vancouver, Washington area toward a healthier heart all the time. With commitment to health, which is an investment in yourself, you can help reduce and eliminate the risks associated with heart disease. Whether I help you do it or you do it on your own, make the move now before it’s too late!

How long will it take me to get the body I want? I want this yesterday!

By the time people make contact with me, they have already decided that enough is enough.  They’re tired of looking in the mirror and seeing a frumpy person looking back at them.  They’re tired of feeling lethargic.  And they are sick of being in a state of unfit!

So it never surprises me when people ask me, “How long is it going to take me to get the body I want?  I want this yesterday!”

 

We live in a society of instant gratification.  If you want something, you can go and get it.  After all, that’s what the commercials and advertisers tell us daily, right?

Most of the time, that is the case.  The thing is though, when it comes to your goals concerning getting the body you want and getting the fitness you want, it takes time.  Ask yourself this key question, “Did you get to your current state of being a few – or a lot – of pounds overweight overnight?”

“Did you get yourself to your current state of being so unfit overnight?”

The answers will always be NO!

It takes time to put on weight.

It takes time to lose fitness.

It takes time to become unfit.

None of this stuff happens overnight.  And none of it can be fixed overnight.

And that is why you need to really accept this reality.  The reality is that all damage that takes time to create, will take time to reverse.

If you want to reverse a trend of weight gain and lose the weight, it will take time.

If you want to reverse a trend of unfitness and gain fitness, it will take time.

The moment you accept this reality is the moment you can set yourself on a path to reversing it and getting the results you want.

Understand it will take time, and then work with your personal trainer to achieve those goals you want.

If you go down the path of wanting the instant results, the instant gratification – the great results with little effort and in next to no time – you won’t get the results you want.

Accept that it takes time to do damage.  Accept that it takes time to reverse damaging trends.

And you will be well on your way to achieving the body and fitness goals you want!

Talk to your fitness trainer about what your goals are, and ask them for a realistic time frame.  You must be realistic when it comes to what you can achieve and the time it will take.  Don’t set yourself up for crazy expectations that are unrealistic.  You cannot lose 30lbs in one month.  You cannot get the fitness you want in just one week.

It will take you some time.  When you learn this and take it onboard, you will be in the right frame of mind to stick to the plan your fitness trainer sets for you – and achieve your goals in the time needed to achieve them.

So relax and understand this.  Be easy on yourself by being realistic with your goals.  As Pantene said, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”

 To speed up the time in getting the body you want CLICK HERE

How many calories should I be taking in for my body?

As a personal trainer, I’ve lost count of how many times this question has been put to me: how many calories should I be taking in for my body?

Now this is a really valid question if you are keen to lose or maintain weight, because what you eat, in conjunction to what exercise you do determines how many calories you need to consume each day.

In determining exactly how many calories you need to consume each day, you need to determine how many calories each day your body will actually use.  Think of it as income to expenditure.  Your food or calories are income and the spending of calories through exercise is the expenditure.  The first step in calculating the calories you must consume each day, is to determine your Basil Metabolic Rate or BMR.

Now, rather than go into great detail and outline the formulas for calculating your BMR, it’s easier for you to just enter your weight and height details into the BMR calculator .  I’m going to ask you to go and get your BMR now, so please google BMR calculator in another screen and get your BMR number.

Okay, you’ve got your BMR now?  That’s great!  Determining how many calories per day your body needs to consume is easy.

The amount of calories you must consume per day – referred to as Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE – is determined by the amount of exercise you engage in each day.  TDEE tells us how many calories we need to maintain our weight.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure for somebody who does very little is calculated by your BMR x 1.2.  If you do very light activity 1-3 days per week, your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is your BMR x 1.375.  If you engage in moderate activity, exercise or sport 3-5 days per week, your TDEE is BMR x 1.55.  If you do high physical activity, sport or exercise 6-7 days per week, your TDEE is BMR x 1.725 and if you are involved in very heavy activity – a physical job, or you do a lot of sport or exercise twice a day, everyday, your total calorie intake per day is calculated by BMR x 1.9.

Now that you know how to calculate your daily calorie needs for maintaining weight, how do you calculate daily calories needed to lose weight?

You need to subtract from your Total Daily Energy Expenditure figure to lose weight.  To determine how much to subtract, you need to know how calories relate to weight.  And that’s why I need to mention the following:

1 lb (0.45kg) equates to 3500 calories

1.5 lb (0.68kg) equates to 5250 calories

2 lbs (0.91kg) equates to 7000 calories

Say for example, your BMR is 1800 calories and you do moderate exercise.  Your TDEE is:

1800 x 1.55

So your TDEE is 2700 calories per day to maintain your current weight.  Multiply 2700 x 7 and your weekly calorie intake to maintain your weight is 18,900 calories.

So, if you want to lose 2lbs per week, here’s how you calculate the calories you need to consume per day:

18,900 – 7000 = 11,900/week

11,900/7 days = 1700 calories/day

You need to consume 1700 calories per day to lose 2lbs per week.

It’s important to never exceed weight loss of 2lbs per week, because to lose more than this will burn muscle, overtraining, or burnout which is unhealthy.  You need muscle to help you burn fat, so keep your weight loss to a healthy level.

So now you know how to determine the calories you need every day.

 

Going After the Enemy – Obesity

There’s an old English proverb that says, “Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.” Yet that’s exactly what many people across America are doing. Obesity has become a major issue, with over a third of all adults in the country falling into the category, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, further studies by Cornell University indicate that those who are obese typically do not see themselves as such. They tend to think that about 30 pounds heavier than they are is obese.

Clearly we have a big problem on our hands, and baby boomers are not immune. When it comes to senior citizens, 45 percent are overweight, while around a third of them are obese. The problem is that it raises the risks for hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, etc. Just when you thought you could retire and enjoy the rest of your years, you find out that obesity has put a damper on things!

When people are obese, they have a more difficult time traveling, being active, and doing all those fun things that make up their bucket list. So just how do you go about determining if you are obese? It’s a mathematical equation, really, where you determine your body fat, BMI, waist circumference, etc. When women have more than 30 percent body fat, and men over 25 percent, they are considered to be obese. You can also use a BMI calculator, which can be found online, to determine what your BMI is and if it falls into the obesity or overweight category. Also, women with a waist that is more than 35 inches are considered to be obese.

When you think about what has happened over the last several generations, it is easy to see where the obesity issue came from. We used to be a society made up of active people, who walked, biked, worked in the garden, cleaned our houses, and even washed our clothes by hand and hung them to dry. Today we have conveniences for everything you can think of. We have largely become a sedentary people, which is leading us to pack on the pounds.

So, what is it that is preventing you from losing weight? The top reasons that I find, from the baby boomers I work with, include inactivity, alcohol abuse, eating out too often, empty nest syndrome, baby boomer boomerang (moving back home), being a caretaker, stress, menopause (for women), and testosterone decline (for men). The good news is that you can address these issues and get to the root of the problem. Stay tuned for the next blog post, when I look at menopause causing weight gain, and what you can do about it.

The key to losing weight and battling obesity is in your hands. I have watched many people ignore this problem and end up losing in the end. Yet, I have also seen baby boomers take it on and beat it. The choice is completely up to you; it’s just a matter of determining which path you will take!

Retiring From Fitness

Q. My husband is 68 years old and recently retired. He used to have a job that kept him active. Now that he has retired he is not getting much physical activity at all and I have noticed him slowly gaining some weight. What do you suggest he should be doing at this point, considering he has never been one to go work out. He has always gotten his exercise on the job.

A. First, let me say congratulations on the retirement. Now is the time to really focus on enjoying life and having fun, as you probably already know. However, it is also a time to do what you can to make the rest of your life as healthy as you can. Having said that, it is important that all senior citizens know that when you retire from your job you cannot abandon physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), senior citizens, or those over 65 years of age, are advised to get exercise on a regular basis. By exercising regularly you will help keep your body stronger and healthier. This will help you to enjoy your retirement more, as well as maintain independence throughout your retirement.

So what do you need to do to get the physical activity as a senior citizen? Here’s what I recommend, which coincides with what the CDC advises:

  • Option one. Get 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, as well as do muscle strengthening exercises at least two days per week. Moderate exercises include brisk walking.
  • Option two. This option is to do 75 minutes per week of intense aerobic activity, combined with at least 2 days per week of strength training exercise. Intense aerobic activity includes running or jogging.
  • Option three. With the third option you can mix up doing moderate and intense aerobic activity, as well as get 2 days per week of strength training in.

As you can see, getting regular strength training, which includes lifting weights, is recommended with every option. The strength training is important to maintaining healthy muscles and being more toned. Another important thing to note is that you can get your exercise in 10 minute time slots if you need to. Taking a 10 minute walk here and 10 minute bike ride there will add up to give you what you need throughout the week.

Show this article to your husband, make a plan, get started, and focus on living a healthier retirement!