Archive for the ‘Weight Loss’ Category

Beat the Blahs

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Typically, I am an early morning workout advocate.  I love getting outside, pumping fresh air through my lungs and starting the day like Rocky training to take on Apollo Creed, minus the raw egg cocktail, of course.  Lately, as the temperatures seem determined to linger well below zero, my mornings are a bit less inspiring as I’m more inclined to curl up on the couch with a warm cup of tea.  Hardly a rousing way to start the day, I’ll admit.  The good news is that I rally quickly and make it a priority to get a good workout in even if it is indoors on the treadmill next to the wood stove!  Often, winter takes its toll on our fitness intentions and there may be a very good reason for it.

Put on your Skinny Genes

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We have a new family who just moved in next door.  They are from California so our harsh Maine winter is beginning to take it’s toll.  Fortunately, they love to entertain and to cook.  Those traits gain them big points in our neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the daughters are half Greek and make a decadent baklava.  Needless to say, I’m spending the better part of the New Year on the treadmill!  Actually, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions and fad diets or exercise programs that are unsustainable for most folks by February.  It may sound bland, but consistent exercise and a balanced diet are always the best long term approach to good health and weight maintenance.  There may be other factors in play, however, that may help you revamp your resolutions once and for all.

Visions of Sugar Plums

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It is a Christmas Eve tradition for my nephew, Lorenzo, to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, so every time I think about that captivating poem, memories of the past five Christmases we’ve spent together fill my heart.  From sledding down a mountainside to ice skating on a crystal clear lake to getting stuck in an assortment of ice, snow and sleet storms, all of our Christmas adventures have one thing in common — precious time spent together.  This year, we’ll have to rely on technology (as so many families, especially our military do) to bring us together.  So, I appreciate your indulgence in sharing this Christmas message along with a few fun tips to help you enjoy some holiday cheer wherever you are this year. 

Sleepin’ Like Santa

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While the rest of the world may rationalize away this season as a homogenized, hectic and hassle-​​filled holiday, I, on the other hand, confess my allegiance as an unapologetic, unabashed, unrelenting fan of Santa Claus.  That’s right, I love that rosy cheeked big boy with all the toys…which may explain my obsession with all things Christmas, especially the perpetual parade of holiday movies that re-​​rack every December.  From the quintessential struggle of a family man finding purpose in “It’s a Wonderful Life” to a reluctant father whose fate intersects with misfortune in “The Santa Clause,” I’m certain I can recite every line by heart.  What’s interesting about both of these men is that they find themselves at the end of their tether and something magical happens that changes their lives and the lives of the people they love forever.  The good news is that your change of fortune may be easier to attain than you believe.  

How to Power Down

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I come from a long line of bargain hunters and deal-​​makers which is why I’m not getting much sleep this time of year as I scour the internet for the end-​​of-​​the-​​year bargains like I did last night.  It seems that beyond the traditional black friday bargains, stores are constantly enticing us all with deep discounts and slashed prices on items that we previously never needed but now can’t afford not to buy!  While this logic makes perfect sense to self-​​confessed shopaholics like myself, it also has some unintended consequences beyond a ballooning credit card bill.  A season overloaded with Christmas gift shopping lists, catalog-​​stuffed mailboxes, holiday party crammed schedules, and the crush of crowds traveling this time of year, long days inevitably lead to short, sleepless nights.  If you’re having trouble catching your ZZZ’s, check out these five simple tips to power down before you have to gear up again.

Beyond the Bird

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With the Thanksgiving holiday upcoming, chances are you’ve got a lot on your plate to do, that is, before you have a lot on your plate to eat!  For most, Thanksgiving is a great time to get together with family and friends, eat too much, and move too little.  While I don’t begrudge your well-​​deserved R&R, taking too much time off from your workout regimen and healthy eating habits can take its toll.  Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to stick with your program, keep inflammation at bay, and reduce injury.

Strong Defense, Part II

(Ohio National Guard photo by Cpl. Daniel Eddy)

Like most football fans around the country, I took some time out of a busy weekend to catch some college and professional football games.  Since I married a Buckeye, please forgive the indulgence when I brag on his favorite team for a moment.  On Saturday night, the Buckeyes dominated one of their top rivals, Michigan State.  Now, the biggest challenge here is that Mark’s parents and brother are Michigan State alumnus.  Fortunately, the family enjoys healthy competition and,win or lose, everyone appreciates a good competition.  The Buckeyes knew their opponent well and despite a more seasoned challenger, this young and agile football team stuck with their game plan and executed it nearly flawlessly.  This season, it’s good to know your opponents well and have a strong plan to keep you and your immune system in the game.

Strong Defense

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Over the weekend, we experienced our first snow of the season — yikes!  While the harsh weather stripped most of the remaining leaves from our trees, we have a pear tree outside of our front windows which remains in defiance of the looming winter weather.  Despite the storms, its leaves have yet to turn and all of its fruit remains on the branches.  That proved to be a sleep wrecker last night as the blustery winds caused it to sway against the bedroom window knocking us awake at unfortunate regular intervals.  This morning it got a much-​​needed trim and hopefully a gentle nudge that it’s time to hunker down.  Like nature, we all can get a little out of sync when the seasons change especially when we’re not prepared.  Here are three simple ways to put up your best defenses against winter and beyond. 

How to Score in Every Sport

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Autumn does more than usher in a change in season, for sports enthusiasts it’s the best time of year to catch grid-​​iron action one day and the crack of the bat the next — all the while the swoosh of the net rivals the slap of the puck for your attention.  No matter your sport, staying in optimal condition before, during, and after the game is always a winning formula. Check out what some professional athletes are doing this season to get back in the game.

How to Crush an Epidemic

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Even though Maine has a short summer, it makes up for it in a spectacular color show when the leaves change.  It’s a double edged sword, however, as leaf raking too quickly turns to snow shoveling.  Most of us experience the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall (Autumn).  Defined seasons aren’t arbitrary either as they are driven by our earth’s rotation.  Or so you’d think.  Our society has created a slew of other “seasons” like allergy, cold & flu seasons.  This fall has ushered in even more buzz words like outbreak, contagion, and virus creating what feels like “fear season.”  So, I say it’s time to turn the calendar and crush epidemics with a new weapon that may just surprise you.

Running More Than You Want To

Top 5 Tips for Proper Running Form

Every so often, I get asked how to train for a long run like a half marathon or marathon.  Many young men and women prefer the accountability of a race and the thrill of competing in runs while preparing for Special Ops professions.  If running is a weakness you must work on in order to succeed in future training programs, preparing for races that are also entertaining can be a great way to turn a weakness into more of a strength.  Though a marathon is not necessary, it does make a great gut-​​check if you can keep from getting injured prior to your training.  Here is an email from a young man who is making the transition from a collegiate power athlete and working on his skills to become a better long distance runner:

Stew, I just finished my senior year of college in AZ and have been trying to get better at running as I am preparing for Army Special Forces.  As you know, this training requires you to run and ruck many miles each week, but I am having issues with keeping my focus during longer runs.  Any suggestions?  Should I try running different locations, races, marathons, different cities, elevation, beach/​desert, trails?  Thanks – Sean.

What is the best way to…?

2012 London Olympics

For over a decade and a half of writing about working out and acing fitness tests primarily, I often get questions that start off with, “Stew — what is the best way to (insert event)?  The most common one is “run faster in timed runs”.  Or “do more pull-​​ups, push-​​ups, sit-​​ups” is often asked.  And, of course, there is swimming times related question — “What is the best way to increase my swim speed /​ decrease swim times per given distance?”  Or a very controversial topic — “What is the best way to build muscle?”

The reason why I bring up this topic is after reading an email from a young man trying to ace his situp test, I got distracted.  He is seeking a goal to keep a pace of one sit-​​up per second or scoring 120 situps in 2 minute period.  This is a great goal!  It is not uncommon in the Spec Ops candidate world to see 120+ on 2 minute sit-​​up tests and there is a way to build up to get there.  Is MY way the BEST way?  I do not know — depends on how you define BEST.  Here is the question:

How to Hit the Pause Button

BLT 1/4 hits paradise for Exercise Tropic Thunder

This weekend I’m pulling some self-​​imposed overtime.  With everything going on in my life at the moment, I have to put in some extra hours to catch up with paperwork and correspondence which I hope will get me ahead for next week, or so I choose to believe at this moment!  Does it ever feel like you’ve got too much on your plate?  From your service/​career demands to family obligations and a lengthy list of must-​​dos, it may feel like you’ll never get on top of it all.  Maybe we can all take a cue from nature as summer is officially over and autumn begins.  In the fall, everything seems to take a pause — the grass stops growing, leaves begin to turn, and flowers fade.  If your world is spinning, check out these tips to help you take it down a notch or two. 

Sleep Deprivation Video from TED Conference

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If you have not seen or heard about the TED conferences you should subscribe — especially if you like to hear about new and innovative things occurring in the world with science /​ technology based research and development.

TED = (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference share the best ideas in the world for FREE by video.  Check them out.  This one is conducted by former Navy SEAL and current medical doctor — Kirk Parsley.

Weird Workout Hacks that Actually Work

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It’s not hard to find hundreds of search results for workout tips when searching the internet. That’s why I was on a mission to find quick and easy workout tips that actually work, proven by scientific studies.  Below are my findings:

Gut Check

Gut Check Obstacle Course

Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”?  Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.”   For those of you in combat situations or as first-​​responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”.   The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.”  Merriam-​​Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.”  It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations.  You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.  

Peak Your Performance…Now!

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Have you ever enjoyed a summer day that you wish would never end?  Labor Day was one of those days for us here in Maine.  Usually, by this time of the season, the crisp chill of autumn has set in and I’m reaching for my fleece.  Instead, this week has ushered in steamy, hot weather and brilliant sunshine.  So, you guessed it, I’m spending as much time as possible outdoors to soak up every ounce of warmth before it becomes a fleeting memory in a few short months.  Last week we talked about peaking your performance with a better approach to sports nutrition.  Whether you’re at the gym, on a bike, in the water or at home, this week we’ll continue to shed the light on overcoming inflammation to keep you moving. 

The Two Minute Bodyweight Workout –4 to Floor

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The Two Minute Bodyweight Workout –4 to Floor

This article was authored by Sergeant Michael Volkin, inventor of Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards.

I don’t know about you, but I have too much stuff to do. Like you, every day I deal with email, Facebook, tweets, work, pets, family, and so on. Finding time to go to the gym is getting harder and harder each day. Well, have no fear. I have assembled for you a workout you can do anywhere called the 2 Minute Workout that only takes, you guessed it, 2 minutes! This workout will get your blood pumping, increase your energy level, burn some calories and strengthen muscles.  Not a bad way to spend 2 minutes!

Sports Nutrition — A Game Changer

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

As summer winds down, I’m noticing an interesting trend that has developed over the past few months — my pension for all things water-​​related.  From swimming to kayaking to paddle boarding, I’ve been on a mission to stay on or in the water as much as possible.  I now officially have the SUP (stand up paddle board) addiction!  Put me on the water with a paddle in my hand and I’m content for hours.  If you haven’t checked it out, SUP-​​ing is an awesome full body workout engaging your core for balance, increasing flexibility, upper & lower body strength and decreasing stress…seriously, is there anything more calming than dipping your paddle into a clear, tranquil lake or the invigorating rush of catching the surf?  My newly discovered passion has made me even more aware of how to tweak my nutrition to keep me on the water as long as possible this year. 

Crushing Cortisol

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Last weekend I returned to my parent’s home for a reunion with my mom’s family.  We spent our days relaxing by the lake, talking up a storm and laughing until our sides were about to split!  It took a couple of years for my mom to pull off this reunion as everyone’s schedules and circumstances were decidedly chaotic and stressful.  I’m sure my family will agree that it was one of the most fun times we’ve had together in a long while. In fact, any stress we may have carried into the weekend was quickly diminished.  When I left on Monday, everyone looked relaxed and happy.  It made me realize that stress can take its toll on all of us and yet there are simple ways we can all crush it.