Saturday, April 23, 2011

Make Like a Bunny and HOP to It!

Well, we couldn't let the Easter Bunny's big day go unnoticed, so in anticipation of tomorrow's egg hunts we're going to pay a little tribute to our main bouncing friend! (Tigger comes in as a close second, but sadly that guy doesn't boast of his own holiday.) Here's the low down on why YOU should be hopping to it:

It's All Plyometric, Baby! Plyometrics revolve around the basis of quick, all-out, intense bursts. Think things like box jumps, high jumps, long jumps, bounding, single leg hops, star jumps...they all tap into those fast twitch muscle fibers and get you feeling the burn FAST. That means you may not need to do many rep's, but do them right and you'll reap the rewards. Doing plyometrics a couple times a week, in non-sequential days, will build up muscle mass and leave you tight and toned. They also crank up that metabolism and leave you burning more calories all day long. Try THIS PLYOMETRIC workout.

Grab a Rope and Jump In! Can you criss-cross apple sauce? Taking a trip back to the schoolyard can pay off for your fitness routine too. Jumping rope is a great way to mix-up your cardio routine, and heck, a lot of fun too. There are lots of ways to play around with a rope and challenge yourself; alternate between standard rope jumping, bursts of chili-pepper fast step jumping, jumping on one leg, adding a high bunny-style jump ever few revolutions, traveling around while jumping, there are lots of things you can do. Also, for parents, this is a great way to get the kids involved and excited about working out...make it a game! Try THIS JUMPING ROPE workout!

Jumping 'n Climbing! Jumping and plyometrics can easily be integrated into stairs...both get you higher in elevation and both get you firing those fast twitch muscles. They are also both excellent at giving your butt a nice LIFT and granting you an enviable pair of legs. Try THIS STAIR JAMMER workout!

Jump to Better ABs! You read it right, use the plyometic method to rock a better core. Getting abs is tricky because the first hurdle is getting rid of any excess flab covering those muscles. So that means you need to be dedicated to your cardio as well as doing core work. For the time crunched, you can use a plyomtric move, the Burpee, and combine both cardio and ab work. That way you get your heart rate up, burning that fat, and then use ab exercises to tone up. Try THE BURPEE BELLY BLASTER workout!

Alright, so hopefully this gives you plenty of ideas and inspiration to start doing more jumping yourself...even if you don't believe in the Easter Bunny!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Dynamic Tribute FIT Women! -- And A Very Mommy Contest Too!!

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, (Yes sons, daughters, husbands, boyfriends, grandchildren, kiddies, and everyone else…if you haven’t started figuring out something special for that mother in your life, here is a friendly reminder! Hehe) and Amanda and Caitlin found it the perfect opportunity to show that it IS possible to not only be a mom but to be a FIT Mom. Make that a Fitness-Inspiring-Toned Mom! (See what we did there?)

In anticipation of Mother’s Day we’re going to be rolling out a special newsletter highlighting get-real tips for cramming in those workouts despite hectic schedules and a little chaos, bouncing back to Hottie Mommy status after baby, and sound advice from who else but other moms?! But we also want to make it clear that while being a Fitness-Inspiring-Toned Mom IS possible, it DOESN’T mean they can do it all themselves….they may be super but still human after all! So we want to include EVERYONE…man, woman, child, boyfriend, girlfriend, hubby, daughter, son, grandfather, fetus…you get the picture. So we’ll also include a tribute to the other people who help these moms rock their fabulously fit status and what they do to make things possible.

BUT…it gets even better! That’s right, we’re going to be inducting a few special ladies into the Dynamic FIT Moms Hall of Fame…so that means we need some candidates! We’re now asking you to submit who YOU think deserves to be in the running. Which fantastic mother do you know that is not only a living example of fitness and health but also inspires others to follow suit. Because one of the BEST ways to instill in our youth is through example, what better than for kids to grow up around an active and healthy-eating example?

HOW TO SUBMIT: Anyone can do it…it’s really easy, see…just so long as you have that special lady in mind! Email by May 1st to: your candidate, include a picture of your tight and toned mom, and then a short reason why SHE has embodied the FIT spirit. How does she make being fitness a priority and then of course get the rewards of being a Hottie Mommy too?! Hehe.

JUDGING: Once we get all of the candidates, deadline to submit is again May 1st, Amanda and Caitlin will narrow the finalists down to five. From there we will post the top five and then ask YOU to come back and vote for the winner. It’s in your hands…WHO will come out to be this year’s Queen of Dynamic FIT Moms? This top mommy will not only be showered with praise, but also win a case, yes, a whole case of her choice of Zico Fitness Water! Woot-Woot…so she can keep on sipping right for those kick-butt workouts. But, all five of our finalists will garner our unyielding respect and become the first wave of inductees into the Dynamic FIT Moms Hall of Fame…so get your submissions ready people!

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Your Weight Loss More Successful Part II: Sneaky Tips to Get More From Your Exercise Routine

Following up on Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Part I: When it comes to what crosses those lips, for Part II of this series we tackle the other part of the equation: Exercise. Eating right and in moderation is one aspect of weight loss, but those who rely on diet alone are not only making things tougher on themselves BUT also jyping themselves out of plenty rewards.

We all know we should exercise, but not just for looking good...though that doesn't hurt either. Especially for those who are trying to lose weight, if all you do is cut calories you won't be building up any muscle mass. What that means is that at a certain point your body may end up losing muscles mass; that number on the scale may go down but your body fat percentage won't. You'll end up looking 'skinny fat' and that is neither hot nor healthy.

Plus, us fitness fans are just plain more fun to be around, right?! Haha...I jest, but working out does mean we can be a little less strict when it comes to what we eat and no one is much fun if they're hungry. ;) Still, there are ways that your exercise routine may be stalling...or sneaky things you can do to get the most out of your workouts:

Intensity: I'm going to keep this short and sweet because we talk about it so much here...but it is paramount. You have to be working hard. For the sake of this post we HAVE to include it and here are some tips: make friends with intervals, hills, ploymetrics, and bursts of giving it your all. These all burn more energy during the workout and elevates your metabolism hours afterwards in the after-burn effect.

No Rest For the Strong: Doing your weight and resistance training in a circuit method not only will save you time and allow you to do more exercises, but it will also keep your heart rate up. That means your metabolism will keep on trucking. Circuit training means that you do your exercises back to back (think of doing a set of bicep curls and then immediately going into tricep kick-backs, then back to your next set of curls, etc.) and continuously versus doing just one set of a bicep curls, resting, and then doing the second set.

Elevate It: If you're working out on the treadmill, play with the grade. You can do mock-hills on the treadmill, but even if you're not putting it up that high, keeping it above grade 0 will make you work harder and thus burn a few more calories. You can also do the same thing with the ellipticals that have both resistance and grade levels.

Avoid the Rails: This is if you're on a machine with side rails, like the stairclimber. We've all seen those people who hunch over and hang on the rails when they are tired. When you support yourself that way you aren't working the machine right and by taking off most of the load from your legs you're 'cheating.' Keep good form and you'll get much better results.

Double Up: When you're running, on the elliptical, or on the stairclimber, keep your core tight. Suck in those abs, stand up straight; that not only will make you more efficient at the machine and possibly go harder/longer but it will also keep that core strong and thus toned. If you're already doing your cardio, you might as well kill two birds and work that core to the max.

Stay Hydrated: This may sound kind of out of place, but if you're muscles are dehydrated they will be zapped of their full potential. It's been show that this is true both in cardio and weight training; dehydrated muscles wind up falling short when it comes to their strength and power. That means you won't be able to lift as much. Stay hydrated and you'll be able to workout harder, lift more, tone up better, and feel better while you're doing it too!

Try Something New: The body adapts to stressors and that means that after time the same routine won't yield you the results you want. As you get more efficient at something, over time you won't be burning the same amount of energy (ie: calories) and to combat this you want to shock that body and make it work. Every 4-6 weeks throw a challenge in there with something new or tweak your routine.

Okay, that will do it for our second part here. But I also want to point out that muscle weights more than fat. So that means that you shouldn't be gauging your 'success' solely by what the scale reads. If you've hit a plateau on the scale but your clothes are fitting better, you have proof that you've gotten leaner and have less body fat. That is healthier than just a number on a scale, and we shouldn't measure ourselves by only a number anyways. Being healthy and happy in ourselves does come from the inside out, and while yes, some of us do need to drop a few pounds to get there...remember that exercising and working out ALSO makes us happier mentally and parlays into so many other areas of our life. Thank you endorphins! Okay, off of my little soap box here...just wanted to point out that the scale shouldn't be your only gauge but rather how you're looking and feeling in your, I mean skin! :)

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Part I: When it comes to what crosses those lips

Anyone currently trying to drop a few pounds, or maybe even more than a few, can attest that sometimes it is just plain tough. Whether it is a waning of motivation to stay committed to your workout routine, feeling downright enraged at having to forgo desserts when it seems the rest of the world is diving into rocky road euphoria, or you've been doing EVERYTHING 'right' but still the scale won't budge.

Losing weight can be tricky, don't get me wrong, BUT a lot of the time people are making it harder on themselves than it should be...and plenty of time they may not even know they are engaging in a little self-sabotage. Because there is MUCH to say on this topic and I don't want to try to cram it all into one epic post, this will instead be a series. This first one will be five mistakes people make when it comes to their eating habits.

1) Discounting Liquids: How many times do you see the woman complaining to her girlfriends about not being able to lose any weight...while sipping on a ginormous whipped-topped drink from Starbucks? People, if it aint water, straight black coffee, diet soda, or something else explicitly stating 0're guzzling away your weight loss goals. For those who don't count calories, (And I'm not proposing that everyone necessarily should; instead focus on eating healthy portion sizes and everything in moderation. I only cite calories because many do and in this example I'll use them to give you a frame of reference.) take a look at the stats of your favorite beverages. You may be shocked to discover that some drinks clock in over 800 calories; that drink alone could come out more than your actual meal. The problem with liquids is that they also don't fill you up the same way as food would. For instance, if you were to drink a glass of apple juice you'd still feel just as hungry afterward and then likely turn to some food. Rather, if you had eaten an apple instead of the juice you'd be getting a more nutritious way to satisfy your belly. I'm not saying all drinks are banned, but if you are trying to lose weight you need to be conscious of what you're sipping on.

2) Portion Size Scmortion Size: It's no secret that portion sizes have been growing faster than The Blob here in America. What's happened is that now peoples' sense of what an actual portion size is has become fuzzy. This isn't only when we go out to eat, but even the plates and tableware stores are selling today are larger than in decades past. If you are watching what you eat you need to get reacquainted with what a typical serving of your favorite foods are. The good news here is that our good friends fruits and veggies make that pretty much a no-brainer. An apple is an apple is an apple. But for the rest of it, you may want to measure out what a half cup of rice looks like or 3 ounces of fish.

3) Mindless Eating: People eat when they're stressed, people eat when they're bored, people eat when something just happens to be in front of them. We're all guilty of it...but next time you're checking in for an appointment and you see a bowl of M&M's think before you fish out your favorite color. A few handfuls here and there add up. This also happens when you're eating a meal and you're distracted You may just keep on eating without listening for those hungery/full cues. It's documented that people will eat more while watching TV, out with friends, or doing anything else besides focusing on enjoying what they're eating. I'm not saying you need to hole yourself away in a dark corner whenever you eat (NOT FUN!) but every now and then check in with yourself and see how satisfied you are. Also, savor what you're eating and don't just wolf it down.

4) Believing Packages: Don't fall victim to slick marketing. Just because the front of the box screams 'Low Fat' or anything of the sort, don't take that as permission to go overboard. Again, I'm not saying we all have to be calorie counting Spartans, but if you are looking to lose weight you need to be label savvy. Companies' main goal is to sell products and they do that with their packaging. Find out what one serving constitutes, how many are in said package, and the stats for that single serving; then do the math. An interesting point about some of the low fat or sugar free fare, sometimes the total calories for the regular products are nearly the same. In some cases I've actually seen some cookies or crackers as being more; but because the package says it is lower in fat people sometimes tend to then take that as permission to eat more than they normally would.

5) BUT...Know When to Cut the Fat: This comes on the heels of the last. For things like mayo, dressing, sauces, cream, cheeses, spreads, etc. you should seek out the lower fat versions. This isn't just a weight loss issue but also because cutting out some of the saturated fats in these products is better for a healthy body. Here is a reason why people should never just assume that ordering a salad is their best bet. When you add in dressing and all those other 'extras' some of those salads have more calories and fat than if you were to order a burger and joke.

All right, that will give you plenty to chew on for the first in this series. Check back for the rest, but in closing I would like to recommend that we all throw out the word DIET. It brings to mind synonyms such as deprivation, misery, torture, and the like. That alone is enough to push you off-track of your goals; besides, diets are also usually some kind of 'plan' and many of them come with some pretty wacky stipulations. Eating healthy isn't a diet, it doesn't have a definite end date, and it also allows you to eat what you want...just in moderation. There aren't necessarily 'bad' and 'good' foods, but instead those that you should eat more of and others that are more treats and should be savored in smaller amounts. Eating healthy is also a way of life and a way to treat your body the best so that it then can be the best for you! :)

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

When's the Best Time to Workout? -- Finding the Time to Get Your Sweat On

I hear this question a lot and also have heard some pretty funky answers. There are no shortage of wacky suggestions when it comes to fitness, nutrition, working out, and losing weight in general; and unfortunately there are also ones willing to take advantage of that fact. (Do I need to mention the ab-zapping belt?!) And don't get me started on the people who tell you to workout slower or easier during your cardio sessions so that you keep your heart rate low enough, or in the 'fat burning zone.' That one really gets to me...that fat burning zone, you'll see people barely moving those bike pedals and thinking their doing themselves a favor. Not true, for plenty of reasons (ie: higher intensity not only burns more calories in the same time, builds more muscle mass, and revs up your metabolism, but more) but that is a topic for another post! So here's the low-down on what time really IS best to workout.

Drumroll's when you are going to ACTUALLY get your workout done! Shocker right? Okay, sorry for being a tad sarcastic here, but the truth is that everyone is different; not only when it comes to personal preferences but also schedules. If the only time you have to exercise is during your lunch break, then that's your golden time slot. If instead you feel just plain sluggish or 'off' until you've had your sweat session (Both Amanda and my arms are raised here...hehe!) then the best time is in the morning. That being said, there are some really interesting new findings that suggest those who do get up and exercise first thing may be getting an edge on the rest of us. We'll be rolling out an article on just that soon, so stay tuned!

Until then, there are some factors that come into play and need to be taken into consideration depending on what time of day you do your workouts:

  • Rise-and-Shiners: Personally, I like to start my day off with my workout. Not only do I feel more energized throughout the day and more productive, but I then don't have to worry about something suddenly coming up that may interfere with getting my workout in. Still, sometimes that means having to get up a bit earlier and it can be hard to get moving first thing. Skimping on sleep is not something that I'd recommend and if you know you're going to have to get up earlier, really try to get into bed earlier the night before. Also, I like to have everything laid out and ready the night before; I even go so far as to put the running shoes next to the clothes I'm going to wear so it's a quick change and I can get out the door. Coffee is also our friend, and studies show it can improve your workouts, making you able to go faster, longer, and give you a little extra 'pop.'
  • Mid-day-Follies: Some people need some time to gradually 'wake-up' and don't find working out first thing appealing in the least. For them they find that during a lunch break or mid-day tends to be the best time. That's fine, but it also means that the time frame could be a tight fit if you've only got a certain amount allotted for your break. That's where having that gym bag already packed, ready, and waiting at your desk is helpful so that all you need is right there and boom, you're out the door. What can also get people in trouble is if a coworker gets to talking to you and before you know it you've talked through half your break. Or instead, a pressing project gets you toiling away and you lose track of time. That's where setting your watch alarm, a reminder on your computer, or scheduling your workout time just as you would any other appointment in your agenda book can help. Those cues will alert you that it's time to get physical; if you feel 'guilty' putting a project on hold, remember that it's been proven that bouts of exercise breaks will perk you up, re-energize you, and make you more productive upon your return. In fact, there are businesses that encourage their workers to do just'd you like to find yourself on the elliptical next to your boss?
  • Night-Riders: There are also those who live for the night; whether it is because they find it relaxing to watch the sun set on their runs or it's the only time they have free during the day, this is their sweat hour. That's cool, but there are some things that can also make this time a little tricky. Sometimes motivating yourself to get to the gym after a full day is a little tough; you're already mentally burnt-out, tired, and just want to get home. To combat lagging workout inspiration that's where loading a fun new playlist can help get you in the mood, having people to meet up with at the gym, and keeping a fitness log can help. What works best for me when I'm tempted to skip out, is that I remember how much better I'll feel AFTER I'm done. I also remember that those first few minutes of getting started are usually the hardest part and that once I get going those endorphins kick in and I'll start getting into the groove.
What to eat, when to eat, and weight does this come into play?

I heard that working out on an empty stomach is the best way to burn fat? Again, we're in speaks with a few experts on that one and will address just this in more detail in our next article. For now, we'll offer you some quick tips and advice. As for doing your workouts off of no fuel, you'll be like the little engine that ran out of gas. You'll feel tired, sluggish, and won't be able to perform at your best. People who are afraid that putting the calories into their body might then cancel out or negate the calories they'd burn off from their workouts need to think about two things: first, that not eating will cause your metabolism to slow down to almost nil because the body goes into 'starvation' mode and secondly, eating a smart meal or snack will enable you to go harder or longer in your workouts and thus burn more calories than you would have running on empty.

  • AM'ers: Waking up even earlier to eat something...are you kidding me? In this instance, doctors we've been talking to say that perhaps if you're an early bird and workout before breakfast you could be doing yourself a favor. Though if you plan on running a marathon or doing a particularly long workout you may want to consider putting something into the tank. In these cases, and you just can't handle getting yourself up earlier, then something people do is to keep a sports bar by the side of their bed. Then, you wake up during the night for a bathroom break, eat your bar, go back to bed, and have that energy ready when you go to workout. Finding something that is 'easy' on your stomach is key; I've found oatmeal works best for me. Finally, if nothing else, try to find a sports drink with a good amount of carbs and protein and sip on that.
  • Nooners: Don't have the last thing you've eaten be from breakfast; aim for a snack a few hours beforehand that is a combo of carbs and protein. Try half of a bagel with some peanut butter, fruit and nuts, or you could also have half of your turkey sandwich and finish the rest as your post-workout fueling.
  • Night Owls: Again, don't let the whole day get away from you without eating something. Follow the example from the nooners and have a snack before getting sweaty with it. When you're done make sure to refuel within 30 minutes, the optimal window for recovery. That goes for everyone; but if dinner isn't all cooked or ready in that time make sure to get in a smart, complex-carb and protein rich snack to tide you over until then.
Whew! Are you guys still with me? Sorry, you'd think a simple question would grant you a simple answer but I tend to get going and then keep on rolling! Hopefully you've gleaned a few tips to help you improve your workouts, WHENEVER you find is the best time to get them done! :)

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Get Fit and Active With the Kids This Spring Break!

Did you see it? I thought I saw it there for a minute...could it really have been the sun? Well, depending on where you live, it looks like just MAYBE spring weather is making good on the season and that means a few things. First, it means that at least one excuse not to exercise is officially busted: the weather outside IS nice, inviting, and begging for you to get out there and get physical. Secondly, it means that there are lots of fitness related events and activities on the horizon that you can (should) sign-up for and take part in. Thirdly, it means that spring break is happening here, yes the dates may be a bit different depending on school schedules, but if you're a parent you'll be needing a way to keep those kids busy...and for that the topic of this blog!

One cause that I feel really passionate about is getting kids active and moving! Every time I hear about another school cuttings sports programs and physical education classes it gets me fired up all over again. Being active and exercising is SO important and not only because we have a serious obesity problem. Kids that participate in sports learn and develop other skills that translate over into other areas of their life. Things such as discipline, setting and reaching their goals, and also developing self-esteem. I could go on and on, but back on track; if kids aren't going to be getting active in a school setting then it's up to parents to find outlets for them to get it.

Instilling a passion for using their body and exercising is something that should be done young; parents then should set an example. There are plenty of ways to do this and when the kids are on break, one great way is to get the whole family out there and moving together. Working out doesn't always have to be thought of as a regimented type of thing and for kids an excellent thing to do is make it a game. Take them to the soccer field and challenge them to a game; go do basketball, rugby, football, whatever you like. Just make sure that you're not lulling around but instead working up a sweat...running up and down that field.

Take it to the streets and get running, biking, rollerblading. There are local road races that are usually going on this time of year; look for one a few weeks ahead, sign up, and then use that as motivation to get everyone out and training for this together. Kids are naturally a bit more competitive and you can use this to your advantage...not just to get them moving but for parents too! Take a look at one of our workout videos and do it with the kids; I'll bet that their extra energy pushes you to go harder yourself!

You can also make up your own little exercise 'games.'> Take the kids out to the park and set up an obstacle course. To get your creative juices flowing here's an idea:
  • Use some cones and mark off a large rectangle. If you've got a soccerfield you can use the corners of the half-field marks. If not, space the corners out about that distance. Then put a cone in the middle of the rectangle.
  1.  Everyone start at the middle cone inside the rectangle. This will be Station One. Begin with 10 push-ups. 
  2. Get up, and run to one of the corner cones, Station Two, and do 10 squat jumps.
  3. Run back to center Station One, tag the cone, run back to Station Two and tag the cone; then run clear across to the opposite corner and stay at Station Three. Here do 30 crunches.
  4. Get up, run to center Station One, run back to Station Three; now run forward to the corner cone in front of you, Station Four. Here do another 10 push-ups.
  5. Get up, run to center Station One, back to Station Four, then run diagonally across the rectangle to the final cone Station Five. Here, do 10 Burpees...OUCH!! hehe.
  6. Finally, get up and run the perimeter of the rectangle...and the winner is the first person to finish.
However you get you and your family up and moving...get out and DO IT!!! Exercise and being healthy, fit adults begins with being active kids. So while school is out for spring break, take the chance to teach that very important lesson to the wee ones by getting them outside and under this sun...because I swear I did see the sun out there. :)

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