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Fitbit Blaze

I just received a Fitbit Blaze as a present from my husband!  It’s great fun so far although I don’t rack up nearly as many steps as he does.

Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch, Black, Silver, Large

I decided that i didn’t need the GPS capability built into the watch.  Someday, I will read through the instructions and figure out how to pair it to the GPS in my phone.  There are only rare occasions when I venture out without the phone anyway.

What I needed was:

  • a large screen that was easy to read
  • an accurate heart rate monitor without the need for chest strap, and,
  • something that automatically tracks steps and sleep,

It’s nice that the Fitbit Blaze does all of that without having to remember to manually set something up or change watches or put on a chest strap.

Also nice is the ability to link the calorie and activity tracking from the SparkPeople Mobile App to the Fitbit App.   So I have a constant and visual reminder of how many calories I’ve used and how many I have taken in.  Cool right?  Also having the connection with the Sparkpeople site means that I don’t have to re-enter any of the activity information I’ve been tracking all along.

I think the little badges that you earn for walking are cheesy but cute.  It’s fun to add friends to the Fitbit app so that you have a little community of Type A personalities cheering each other on. 🙂  It’s a terrific incentive.

Anyway, this is my first day and the shiny newness is still with me.

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Using The Tools on This Site

I wanted to revisit all the Fitness tools and Calculators included on this site.  I had mixed results but the bottom line is that my tummy must be trimmed down. Stepping through the main page, we have the:

  • Body Fat Calculator  from http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/bf/  The formula provided will not calculate your exact body fat percentage but should give you a consistent measurement you can use as a guideline and determine if you’re losing body fat and/or muscle. Oddly, the calculation says I have body fat percentage is 27.4%.  My scale tells me it is 39%. I think I’m measuring something incorrectly.

    From http://www.fat2fitradio.com/
    Fat 2 Fit #144 – New Measurements Of Success Written on March 3, 2013 – 12:00 am | by Helana Brigman

Looking at this photo, I’m sadly inclined to believe my scale.

  •  How much should you weigh?  Inputting 39% body fat into the Fat 2 Fit Tool, the ideal weight for my age with 35% body fat is 168 pounds.  That seems doable.
  • Calories and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) –  Fat 2 Fit Tools advocates eating like the thin, healthy person that you want to become. The calorie levels in the chart are not extreme, but  create that all important caloric deficit that is required to get you to your goal weight in a safe manner.  Based on my goal weight of 168 and assuming light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week,  the tool suggests a daily caloric intake of 2005! As I get closer to my goal weight, my weight loss will start to slow down. It is OK to eat a few hundred calories less per day (200-300) to speed up your weight loss at this point.
  • Covert Bailey Body Fat Calculation – The formulas in this body fat calculation are based on the Covert Bailey book The Ultimate Fit or Fat. The formula does not calculate your exact body fat percentage but should give you a consistent measurement you can use as a guideline and determine if you’re losing body fat and/or muscle.  Again, this weirdly gave me a body fat percentage of 27.8%.  This is not right.
  • Waist to Hip Ratio – Carrying extra weight around your middle, indicated by a high waist to hip ratio, increases health risks associated with obesity.  This tool tells me my Waist to Hip ratio is: 0.93.  Anything over 0.85 signifies a high health risk!
  • Waist to Height Ratio – The waist to height ratio is the best predictor of cardiovascular risk and mortality. My Waist to Height Ratio is 58.3%.  According to the tool, a ratio 54 to 58 means “Seriously Overweight” and a ratio over 58 means “Highly Obese“. That’s not good.
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Adding a Hula Hoop to My Day

In the interest of trying something new and fun, I have purchased a weighted Hula Hoop.  I spent 10 minutes this morning listening to music and hooping.  It wasn’t bad although I had to learn to keep my elbows out of the way! You supposed to hula hoop in both directions. Mix it up alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise direction.

Benefits

Hooping is a great ab workout to start with before integrating other exercises into your routine.  Because a hoop workout requires constant push-pull contractions in your core muscles (abs plus obliques, at the sides of your waist) as well as in the glutes and thighs, the added resistance created by a somewhat heavier hoop should sculpt and reshape all the right places.  For what it’s worth there are also many references to unnamed studies stating hooping is an effective way to burn visceral fat  which is deep within the abdominal cavity.  Visceral fat is also linked to metabolic disturbances and shows an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other dangerous health conditions.

Here’s some advice I found on Hula Hooping:

The Mayo Clinic reports that you need to spend at the very least 10 minutes at a timWeighted Hula Hoope exercising your abs with the Hula-Hoop in order to see concrete results. An average woman can burn about 165 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping, and an average man can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping.

1.    Stabilize your torso and legs, and mobilize your midsection. Only use your abdominal muscles and hips to keep the hoop spinning.

2.    Scoop your belly in and lift your rib cage. Extend from the center of your body out. The better your posture, the easier it will be to hoop.

3.    Hold the hoop parallel to the floor as you start the spin, and give it some good momentum so it doesn’t start out wobbly.

4.    If your hoop starts to fall, lengthen your spine, push forward and back, and move faster. Imagine yourself as the axis of the orbit, not the orbit itself. If you try to move with the hoop (rotating your hips in a circle) the hoop will lose momentum and fall. Move side to side with your waist and hips or back to front with your belly. Feel the centrifugal force, but don’t try to be the circle; let the circle move around you.

5.    Stick with it. The longer you hoop, the more your body gets used to the movements

 

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New Baseline Test 2015

Time to retest baseline fitness!  (It’s been a crazy couple of years so I did not have high expectations.)  I used the tests outlined on The TopEnd Sports Page.  These are tests that can be done at home with minimal or no equipment. The tests are designed to quickly gauge a person’s general fitness level and to act as a benchmark for future testing. After taking the test, you may wish to train for a few months. Then, take the test again and compare the results.

Although there are six tests, I did only the first three — Push ups, Sit ups and Squats.

  1. Push ups to test upper body strength.
  2. Sit ups to test abdominal or trunk strength.
  3. Squats to measure lower body strength.
  4. Vertical Jump to measure leg explosive power.
  5. Step test to measure aerobic endurance.
  6. Sit & Reach to measure flexibility.

Push Ups:  I did the modified push up with a “bent knee” position. (To do this, kneel on the floor, hands on either side of the chest and keep your back straight. Lower the chest down towards the floor, always to the same level each time, either till your elbows are at right angles or your chest touches the ground.)  I was able to complete 35 push ups vs the 25 expected for my age group. Woo Hoo!

Sit Ups:  You must count the number of sit ups you can do within one minute.  The sit ups required that you (a) squeeze your stomach, (b) push your back flat and (c) raise high enough for your hands to slide along your thighs to touch the tops of your knees. I was able to do 45 sit ups versus the 27 expected for my age group.  Again, I was cooking with gas.

Squats:  The test has you stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet at shoulder’s width apart, facing away from it. Placing your hands on your hips,  you squat down and lightly touch the chair before standing back up. A good sized chair is one that makes your knees at right angles when you are sitting. You keep doing this until you’re fatigued.  I was able to complete 20 squats which is the level appropriate for my age group but I have to admit that I was not lightly touching the chair before standing back up.  My knees were making a racket as well.  I will stay away from squats for the time being.

Listening to old episodes of Fat2Fit radio (still my favorite although they’ve stopped recording), I remembered that I have to do weight training so I get my metabolism at a higher rate.  I think it’s great that I can do some light weight training at home or while traveling with little or no equipment.  Good luck with your training everyone!

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Exercises for Better Posture

..according to WebMD:

Exercises for Better Posture

Make these posture-boosting exercises a regular part of your workout. Remember to exhale strongly and pull in your core muscles as you work — a key principle in both Pilates and yoga.

1. Core Stabilizer: Single Leg Extension. This exercise trains your core muscles to work together to stabilize your pelvis.

Starting position: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands behind your head. Press your low back into the floor, and curl your head up off the floor.
Action: Exhale strongly and pull your navel in and up toward your spine. Slowly pull one knee into your chest, keeping your low back pressed to the floor, while extending your other leg straight at about a 45-degree angle off the floor. Keep your abdominals pulled in and your low back on the floor. If your low back arches off the floor, extend your leg higher toward the ceiling. Switch legs. Start with five to 10 extensions on each side.

Variations to increase intensity: Double-leg extension: Pull both knees into your chest, then extend both legs straight at about a 45-degree angle, using your core to keep your low back on the floor.

As you extend your legs, extend both arms overhead, reaching in the opposite direction from your legs.

2. The New Crunch. The new crunch works the rectus abdominis and obliques. It’s also called a “curl up.”

Starting position: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Press your low back into the floor. Place your hands behind your head, or reach your arms toward your knees if it doesn’t create too much tension in your neck.
Action: Exhale strongly and pull your navel in and up toward your spine. Curl your head and shoulders slowly off the floor. Hold, then slowly lower back down. Repeat until you fatigue.

Variations to increase intensity: Extend one leg straight at a 45-degree angle toward the ceiling.

Hold both legs off the floor, knees bent, with your shins parallel to the floor.

3. Pilates Roll-Ups / Yoga Sit-Ups. These exercises work the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis.

Starting position: Lie on your back with your legs straight, your feet flexed, and your arms reaching overhead on the floor. Press your low back into the floor.
Action: Exhale strongly and pull your navel in and up toward your spine. Roll up in slow motion, reaching your arms off the floor, then your shoulders and head, rolling up one vertebra at a time until you’re sitting up with your abdominals still pulled in. Slowly roll back down. Repeat three to five times, adding more as your core gets stronger.

Variation to increase intensity:  Cross your arms over your chest as you roll up.

4. Crossovers. Crossovers work all the core muscles, focusing on the obliques.

Starting position: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, your chest lifted off the floor, knees pulled into your chest. Keep your low back pressed into the floor.
Action: Exhale strongly and pull your navel in and up toward your spine. Pull one knee into your chest while extending your other leg straight and rotating your torso toward the bent knee. Slowly switch legs, pulling the other knee into your chest and rotating your torso toward it while extending the opposite leg off the floor. Repeat five to 10 times, adding more as your core gets stronger.

Variation to increase intensity:  The closer your straight leg is to the floor, the harder the work for your core. Try extending your leg just inches off the floor, making sure your lower back stays on the floor.

5. Cobra Pose: Back Extension. The cobra pose strengthens the erector spinae and other low back muscles.

Starting position: Lie on your stomach with palms flat on the floor near your ribs. Extend your legs straight behind you, and press the tops of your feet into the floor.
Action: Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in and up toward your spine. Lengthen out through your spine and slowly raise your head and chest off the floor, using only your back muscles. Do not push down into your arms to press up. Keep your hip bones on the floor, and gaze down at the floor to relax your neck muscles. Slowly lower back down. Repeat three to five times, adding more as your lower back gets stronger.

Variation to increase intensity: Reach your arms long beside your head. Keep your elbows straight.

6. Plank Pose. This exercise strengthens the obliques and transverse abdominis, as well as your shoulder and back muscles.

Starting position: Start on your hands and knees with your palms under your shoulders. Extend both legs straight behind you, toes tucked under, into a position like the top of a push-up. Pull your abdominal muscles in to prevent a “sway-back,” and gaze down at the floor.

Action: Hold the plank until you’re fatigued. Rest and then repeat. Keep your abdominals pulled in and up so your low back doesn’t sag as you exhale.

Variation to increase intensity:   Forearm plank: Balance on your forearms instead of your hands.

 

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Lots of Ab Exercises This Morning

I met with my trainer at Crunch today and we focused on abdominal exercises.

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Light Kickboxing and Strength Session with John Salgado

Sadly, I weighed in this morning a half pound heavier than yesterday.  Yes, I know I’ve already written that a person should not weigh herself on a daily basis but I can’t help myself.  I’m not sure why it happened but I think it may relate to under-eating again.  The Fat2FitRadio.com pod casts repeated noted that under-eating would result in the body going into starvation mode and holding on to calories.   For the second time this week, I dropped under the calorie limits suggested by the Calories and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculator.  I ate a little over 1600 calories yesterday, so I consumed at least my BMR of 1430 calories.  However, I didn’t eat enough.  🙁  According to the calculator, I should eat between 1907 calories for a Lightly Active woman (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk) to 2150 calories for a Moderately Active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk).

Today’s workout with John was lighter in deference to my knee and because I am fighting off a flu.  We spent a lot of time doing kickboxing strength exercises and drills.  I was still soaked in sweat but happy.

 I found this video on how to do a Back Leg Roundhouse Kick on the ehow.com site.


Women’s Kickboxing: Back Leg Roundhouse Kick — powered by ehow.com
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Another Excellent Kickboxing Workout

Despite coming down with a bug, I worked out with John Salgado today and did pretty well.  Because we’re still working around my cranky knee, we started out doing some drill on the Bosu Ball: jogging on it, Dome Toe Taps [you can watch the video below but I can say she’s a lot better at it than I am LOL],  side squats [again, very small movements because of my knee], and squat thrusts.

Other exercises for today included wall squats with a stability ball and a 10 lb ball.  A new item for today was assisted dips.  We rounded out the work out with punching and kicking combinations on the bag.

Wall Squat with Stability Ball by http://www.workoutz.com

The good news on weight loss and nutrition is that I am still within my recommended calorie intake for my BMR.  I must confess that I had vanilla ice cream with blueberries last night [yes, I entered it into the SparkPeople.com Nutrition Tracker and I remain in calorie range :-)]  I’m down another half pound but that could be just water weight.

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Light Strength Training at Crunch Gym

It’s been raining but I still made it to Crunch to work out with Frank.  We had another light strength workout in deference to my bad knee.  My warm ups comprised running sideways back and forth.  We then did a series of modified inchworms; modified planks, leg extensions [using the wall]; and standing abductions.  As I enter my workouts into the SparkPeople.com fitness tracker, I can see how much less I do at Crunch but I don’t mind as I’m feeling really tired and it’s about as much as I want to do today.  It’s still 100 percent more than I would do without Frank. 🙂

Nutritionally, I am staying within the recommended calorie range for my BMR.  Breakfast included my favorite fruit protein shake.  Dinner included a lovely spinach and feta cheese salad.  My weight continues to creep down.  Hooray! 

 

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Healthy Eating and Walking

So the thought for today is to eat better and continue exercising.  It’s a lovely day so I did a 3.7 mile loop of the park this afternoon.  As for healthy eating, I like the advice of: Prospect Park Preserve

  • cutting out junk food, processed foods, sugars…[including the dreaded High Fructose Corn Syrup]
  • eating more colorful and fresh foods
  • eating in moderation [drinking more water as I might be thirsty rather than hungry]

I found a nice web page called Healthy Eating Easy Tips for Planning a Healthy Diet and Sticking To It from Helpguide.com that provides some common sense advice.

I had a weird diet day today.  I slept in this morning so ate fewer meals.  I’m not sure how that ranks in the BMR [Basal Metabolic Rate] calculation.  Given my 3-5 days/week of moderate exercise activity, I can eat about 2150 calories each day.  The Fat2FitRadio.com calculation is described as:

The chart shows the number of calories that you should eat on a daily basis to reach your goal weight. At Fat 2 Fit Radio we advocate eating like the thin, healthy person that you want to become. The calorie levels …create that all important caloric deficit that is required to get you to your goal weight in a safe manner. Once you reach your goal weight, you will continue eating the same number of calories for the rest of your life to maintain that weight. You’ll never be on a diet again.

Based on how much activity you do on an average day, the [calculation provides] the number of calories that you will be able to eat at your goal weight. If you start eating those calories right now (eating like the thinner you), you will eventually become that thinner person.

Given that I woke up late today, I only ate 2 meals and consumed approximately 650  calories today….. is that bad? I don’t know….

Optimum Nutrition - 100% Nat Oats & Whey ChocolateAlso,  the Helpguide.com article mentioned that we should avoid sugars in any form.  My breakfast this morning comprised a fruit shake made from frozen mangoes, Zico Coconut Water, and Optimum Nutrition – 100% Natural Oats & Whey Chocolate.  The Optimum Nutrition protein drink is very tasty.  The label says, however, that it contains 8 g of Sugars in the form of honey powder and evaporated cane juice powder.  I’m guessing that is not good news but I’m very fond of it.  The Livestrong.com site has an article titled Health Risks of High Fructose Corn Syrup that sums up many of the concerns about High Fructose Corn Syrup [HFCS].  Among other things, it notes that the human body process regular sugars differently than HFCS.

A couple of excerpts from the Health Risks of High Fructose Corn Syrup article:

The human body does not process HFCS the same way it processes sugar. Fructose requires a different metabolic pathway than other carbohydrates because it skips glycolysis, or normal carbohydrate metabolism. Because of this, fructose is an unregulated source of “acetyl CoA,” or the starting material for fatty acid synthesis. Furthermore, by ingesting HFCS, a vicious cycle can ensue. This is because eating HFCS can increase the feelings of hunger.

Liver Disease & Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome includes elevated insulin levels, excess body fat, abnormal cholesterol levels and increased blood pressure. The journal, “Hepatology” noted in June 2010, “The rising incidence of obesity and diabetes coincides with a marked increase in fructose consumption and is higher in individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Furthermore, fructose consumption is a contributing environmental risk factor for increased fibrosis of the liver.

Read the entire article at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/259181-heath-risks-of-high-fructose-corn-syrup/?utm_source=popslideshow&utm_medium=a1

..and, yes, I remembered to log my nutrition and exercise into SparkPeople.com site .  I’ve been less consistent about logging into the Self.com Diet Club as it’s more cumbersome.