Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top 5 Ways to make your fitness New Year’s resolutions stick

Doesn’t it seem like every year we have fitness New Year’s resolutions.  How often do we really stick with them for the whole year?  How long do you usually last when it comes to exercising?  Two weeks?  A month?  3 months?  When people do stick with them, why are they successful while your not?  There can be many reasons, but the people who are successful leave clues.  Here are the Top 5 ways to make your fitness New Year’s resolutions stick.

1. Exercise for your health.  You have to accept that you’re going to need to exercise most days for the rest of your life if you want to be healthy, live longer, have energy, and have a higher quality of life.  The single most important thing that you can do for your health is exercise regularly!  It doesn’t have to be super high intensity workouts all the time, just doing the workouts can be enough sometimes.

2. Keep a healthy living journal.  Write about how your workout for the day went, what you did, how your eating was for the day, how you generally felt throughout the day, and anything else you want to write about.  Journals can be great for stress management, and writing can be very therapeutic.  Then, when your motivation wanes, look back at your entries.  I bet you 50 bucks that when you look back you had better day’s on the day’s you exercised.  I bet that each week you started to have more energy, and felt better.  This is why journals can be an effective tool for keep up with exercising, eating healthy, and leading a healthier lifestyle.

3. Make it a habit to sit down for an hour or so each New Year and set daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and long-term goals every year.  Be sure to have a reward for each weekly, monthly, yearly, and long-term goal that you set.  The reward should be written down next to the goal.

Each month, sit down to evaluate, and write about (do it in your journal if you like) the goals you set, if you reached them, and why you did or didn’t.  If you’re working hard and putting in a good effort you should reach the majority of your goals, so be sure to be realistic, and don’t set yourself up for failure.  Next, dedicate yourself to looking at your long-term, yearly, and monthly goals most days, preferably in the morning.  If you commit to: Write down goals every year, evaluate and adjust your goals each month, and look at your goals most day’s, there’s a lot better chance that you will stick with your New Year’s resolutions, don’t ya think!

4.  Find someone to workout with.  A training partner can be so valuable when it comes to exercising.  Not only do you have someone to go through workouts with, but you have support, accountability, a spotter, someone to watch your form, and someone to talk with between sets.  If you can’t find a friend or family member to workout with, try hiring a Personal Trainer.  You can hire a Personal Trainer to come to your home, or train you at your gym (it will generally cost $40-$80 per session for a good Personal Trainer).  If you decide to go this route, be sure that you find a trainer that fits your needs.  Start with just a few sessions, and if you enjoy working with your trainer, commit for longer (most Personal Trainers will offer a discount for longer term commitments).  Many Personal Trainers now offer various online services which can help keep you accountable, and are cheaper.  Check out Body Balance Healthy Living’s full range of services at:

5.  Take a day off each week, and take a week off (from exercising) every 3-4 months.  This can be huge because taking time off  will help keep you motivated in the long run.  There are many reasons, both physical and psychological, to take time off.  Physically, it gives the muscles, tendons, and ligaments a chance   to heal from 3-4 months of cardio, and resistance training.  Furthermore, it gives the Central Nervous System a chance to recover.  Your brain, and the nerves that carry the impulses to your muscles can become fatigued from months of working out.  Psychologically, taking some time off can give you some time to just relax.  Enjoy your week off, pamper yourself, get a massage, watch a movie, whatever.

There you have it, try these 5 things this year if you are serious about keeping your fitness New Year’s resolutions.  Remember why you have New Year’s resolutions in the first place, because you want to improve and be a better, healthier, happier person who is more confident and has more energy.  Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Body Balance Healthy Living’s Top 5 smart things I see people doing in the gym

While it’s easy to criticize others for doing pointless, time wasting, stupid things at the gym, there are lots of smart, intelligent, things that I see people doing too.  Here are my top 5

1.  Following the proper workout design.  All workouts should consist of: a warm-up, your workout, cool-down, and stretch.  It always puts a smile on my face when I see someone stretching after a workout, one of the smartest things  you can do!

2. Using the right weight and proper form.  You see it all the time, people using more weight than they can handle, it’s only a matter of time until they hurt themselves.  You want to use enough weight to challenge yourself and force your body to adapt, but not at the price of proper form.  If you can’t do the exercise with proper form, then you’re using too much weight.  If you can easily do more than 20 reps or so, then you need to challenge yourself more and use more weight.  It goes both ways.

3. Doing squats and lunges-the leg muscles are the largest group of muscles in the body.  If you want to add muscle, burn calories, and lose weight, focus on training the large muscles.  You have over half of your muscle mass in your legs because of 3 very large muscle groups.  You’ve got your thighs, your hamstrings, and your butt muscles.  Doing exercises like squats and lunges works these large muscle groups and is the quickest path to fast results.

4. Performing intervals when doing cardio.  If you’re doing cardio at a moderate intensity for long durations (30 minutes to an hour) then you’re not getting the most out of the time you’re spending doing cardio.  You are much better off doing a shorter duration workout, but doing intervals.  Intervals are harder work, but you’re hard work will be rewarded.

5. Working out with a partner or personal trainer.  One of the hardest aspects of working out is motivation.  Motivation to do the workout, and motivation to work hard during the workout.  A personal trainer or training partner will help keep you accountable and working hard.

Knowledge is power, especially for busy individuals who don’t have hours per day to spend exercising.  You need to be smart with the time you spend exercising to get the most out of your workout.

The Top 5 stupid things I see people doing at the gym

I know a lot about exercise, fitness, health, nutrition, and motivation,  I know my stuff!  It’s no wonder that when I go to the gym to workout I see people doing stupid stuff.  The scary thing I see is Personal Trainers doing stupid stuff with their clients.  If you ever see a Personal Trainer doing behind the neck pulldowns with a client, steer clear.  Some practices are more dangerous than others, and I’m trying to list the most common and dangerous things I see people doing at the gym.  Check it out!

1. The first stupid thing I see people doing at the gym is not dangerous, but it sure is a waste of time.  It is very common however.  It’s doing long duration, moderate to low intensity cardio in the belief that it burns more fat because if you up the intensity you’re only burning sugar.  Hogwash!  Only do 1 long duration (40+ minutes) workout per week, and do 2-3 moderate duration (20-30 minutes), moderate to high intensity cardio workouts per week.

2. Using too much weight or not enough weight.  Men generally use too much weight, and women don’t use enough.  Never sacrifice proper form to complete repetitions, doing so is asking for injuries.  You do need to push yourself though.  Keep track of your repetitions and try to do a few more reps each workout.

3. Not warming up.  All it takes is 5-10 minutes of cardio to warm-up which will greatly decrease the chances of injuring yourself.  Always warm-up prior to resistance training, stretching, and doing any type of high impact activity, believe me, your joints will thank you in the long run.

4. Doing pointless isolation exercises-some isolation exercises (exercises that primarily work only 1 muscle group) have merit for various reasons, examples are: rotator cuff exercises, transverse abdominis contractions, calf raises, and rear delt exercises.  Instead of wasting your precious time on isolation exercises such as bicep curls, and tricep extensions, make the most of the time you spend resistance training and train the big, functional muscles.  This requires doing compound, multi-joint exercises such as squats, pull-ups, and push-ups.

5. Doing too much when beginning a program.  Making yourself so sore that life is, quite literally, miserable is no fun and pointless.  Excess soreness is associated with high dropout rates, so it is best to avoid it.  Start slow, do higher reps, work on your form, and only do 1 to 2 sets per exercise for the first few weeks.

It is always important to remember that if you hurt yourself while working out, you won’t be able to workout.  If you can’t workout, you won’t reach your goals.  Be smart, and avoid these mistakes and you will be on your way to leading a injury free healthy lifestyle.


Body Balance Healthy Living’s Top 5 Outdoor Activities for Winter

Oftentimes winter can mean weight gain and inactivity for many individuals.  It’s too cold to exercise outside is a common excuse.  Actually there are many fun outdoor activities to enjoy and if you bundle up it won’t be too cold.  Part of The Healthy Lifestyle Plan is to do a fun activity for an hour (preferably with friends or family) each week, even in the winter.  Yes it’s more challenging to exercise outdoors during the winter, but with a little knowledge and a few purchases you can enjoy the great outdoors, even in the winter.  Here are Body Balance Healthy Living’s Top 5 outdoor activities.

#1-Skiing-You can try downhill or cross country skiing.  A work of caution, skiing is hard work.  You will need to be in decent cardiovascular shape to try it.  Downhill skiing (or snowboarding, which is more challenging for beginners) is a blast, but can be dangerous, so be careful and know your limits.  Downhill skiing can be expensive as well, it will cost your around $30 or so for a lift pass and rentals vary (usually $10-$30).  If you plan to consistently downhill ski, buying skis will save you $ in the long run.  Body Balance Healthy Living recommends buying used skis because you’ll save a ton of money.  The second option is cross country skiing, which is an amazing workout and not for beginners with low levels of fitness.  Find trail by using google (simply google cross country ski trails) and, once again, it is recommended that try to buying a pair of used skis or rent.  Lastly, you can take classes for both types of skiing, give it a try!

#2-Ice Skating-Most cities have a recreation center that will have open skating and rentals.  If you have your own pair, try outdoor ice skating, it’s a lot of fun.  Take the whole family, it’s sure to be a good time.  If you are a good skater, try playing hockey.  All you need is a pair of skates, a hockey stick and a puck.  Even if you’ve never tried hockey, give it a try, it’s fun and the whole family can participate (please, no checking).

#3-Sledding-Isn’t sledding for kids?  Well of course it is, but it’s also a great workout walking up and down the hills.  Sled’s are relatively cheap, just go to a local store and pick one out.  Take the family out, and have some fun sledding!

#4-Snowshoeing-Do you enjoy hiking when the weather is warmer.  Do you know where a few good trails are?  You can use those same trails in the winter to snowshoe on.  Otherwise, google snowshoeing and where you live (for example google snowshoeing Rochester Mn) to find good areas.  Also, you can snowshoe virtually anywhere, it’s fun and a great workout.

#5-Walking/Running/Hiking-who says you can’t go for a walk or a run in the winter.  Sidewalks and roads can be icy and dangerous, but you can buy a pair of YakTraks (for about $20) that go right over your running shoes or boots.  This product gives you extra traction to prevent falls on icy sidewalks or roads (they are perfect for runners).  You can also go tromping through the snow for a great cardiovascular workout.  Many hiking trails are cleared during the winter, give them a try too!

There you have it, 5 activities to try during the winter.  Try to schedule a different activity each week to find one or two that you and your family like.


Top 5 exercises to do at home

While it’s nice, and recommended, to have a gym membership it’s not a necessity if you want to be more active.  There are plenty of exercises you can do with little to no equipment.  Here is a list of the Top 5

1. Some type of Squat-there are a variety of options, and ANYONE can do them.  You can do wall sits (lean up against a wall, squat down as far as you feel comfortable and hold), sumo squats (just squat down and hold it), standing squats (put your hands behind your head), chair/couch squats (just sit down and stand up, and dumbbells squats where you place the dumbbell between your feet.  Start with 1-2 sets and try to do a little more each workout (do squatting exercises 1-2X per week)

2. Walk you Stairs-a great way to get in some cardio and work your legs.  Start at the bottom and walk up, then down your stairs.  That’s one trip.  Keep going until you are winded.  Keep track of your time and how many trips you took.  You can try to go faster (be careful), or you can add trips as your cardio improves.  I do stairs with ALL of my in-home clients.

3. Push-ups-a simple easy exercise you can do anywhere.  You can do wall push-ups, knees down push-ups, or knees up push-ups depending on your upper body strength.  Perfect Push-ups are highly recommended when you are doing push-ups (go to for Perfect Push-ups) because they take a considerable amount of pressure off of your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

4. Pull-ups-this is the only exercise that requires equipment.  I recommend a removable doorway pull-up bar (go to for doorway pull-up bars).  Most people aren’t capable of doing a full pull-up.  You will have to use a chair or bench to do your pull-ups.  Your legs will assist.  Shoot for 10-15 reps.

5. Planks-No list of exercises to do at home is complete without abdominal exercises, and planks are the bomb.  Most people will have to start out with a front plank.  You can make it harder by using a exercise ball or balance disc’s (go to for both), and by doing a side plank.  Planks are among the best and safest abdominal exercises you can do and require no equipment.

There you have it.  You don’t have to go to the gym and deal with driving, parking, waiting for equipment, and confusing contracts.  You also don’t have to spend a ton of money on a home gym.  The only piece of equipment you really need (to work all the major muscle groups) is a removable doorway pull-up bar, and there are plenty of pieces of exercise equipment that you can get for cheap.  If you’d like to learn more, please send me an e-mail at ian@BodyBalanceHealthy Living, I’m here to help!