Archive for: weight loss

Gettin’ Gourdy, Part I

Cucumbers

For most of North America, August ushers in the dog days of summer.  Here in Maine they usher in the beginning of autumn — I am not kidding you.  Our temps have already dipped and, just yesterday, I saw a maple tree whose leaves were already turning — come on, tree, seriously?   It would make sense then that you never find a parked car with the windows cracked this time of year.  Actually, it’s not the weather that keeps them shut.  Around here, if you leave your windows cracked open, you’ll be met with a seat full of cucumbers, squash and zucchini!  Every Mainer knows about twenty ways to use a zucchini and the rest leave a trail around the state.  The good news is that these healthy harvests produce some great nutritious dividends as well. Today, we’ll focus on the cucumber. 

Super You!

The incredibles

Did you ever see the animated movie, The Incredibles?  It’s about a family of superheroes who must keep their super powers secret in order to fit into a suburban lifestyle.  Of course, when evil threatens, you can’t keep good superheroes down!  My favorite character is Edna, or “E”, a tiny yet extremely high strung designer tasked with creating costumes for “gods” as she described the cast of super heroes she clothed.  Her biggest gripe was “no capes” after several super heroes met their demise with tragic wardrobe malfunctions!  As kids, I’m sure we all had fantasies about becoming superheroes.  Maybe a super you isn’t so far off thanks to the exciting new world of Epigenetics.

Crazy for Coconut

Cocktails

Have you ever caught a whiff of coconut and it immediately triggers an image of a tropical paradise with warm sandy beaches, waves lapping ashore, a chilled umbrella drink in hand, and steel drums playing in the distance? Or does that just work for me?  Coconut is obviously one of my favorite scents and flavors of summer.  Unfortunately, coconut is considered a forbidden fat-​​laden food found in rich, decadent cookies, pies and cakes.  Let’s bust through coconuts crusty shell to reveal some amazing health and fat-​​loss benefits.  

Rock & Roll Summer

PBband

In high school, my brother and his buddies started a band.  Not only were they a crazy-​​talented bunch, they also had an uncanny ability to throw a concert together on a moment’s notice and fill the room with 300 or more avid fans.  Last summer, they got the band back together for a one-​​night-​​only concert on the lake.  It was a blast and we’re looking forward to an encore this year.  It proved to me that you can go back and relive experiences from your past.  With summer in full stride, maybe it’s time to shake up your fitness routine, rekindle some passions of your own and maybe even cultivate a few new ones.

New Training Device — The CrossRope (Elite Jump Rope System)

New Training Device — The CrossRope (Elite Jump Rope System)

If you have been a user of my workouts for any of the past 15 years, you will notice I do not do jump roping as part of my written programming.  It does not mean I disapprove of jumping rope, in fact, I have many years of jumping rope when I wrestled and played football in high school and played rugby in college. We also used jump ropes while on deployments when visiting on submarines or boats when in the SEAL Teams.  I just never pushed jump roping as a training option when the focus of my writing has been mainly running, rucking, swimming as a cardio foundation.

However, after learning about this new jump rope called the Crossrope (www​.crossrope​.com) at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Tactical Strength and Conditioning Conference, I actually have added jump roping to my training programs.

Five Not-​​So Forbidden Foods

Picnic

Although I’m fascinated with ancient history and artifacts — I could totally be Indiana Jones, whip and all — I’m not a huge fan of museums.  Everywhere you go, there are signs saying “Do Not Touch.”  Truthfully, doesn’t it make you want to touch everything that much more?  The same may be true when it comes to off-​​limits food.  The more forbidden it is, the more we want it, right?  If you’ve hung in there with me all month through the litany of what-not-to-eat’s for weight loss, you may be wondering if there is anything left to eat!   The good news is there are some fun foods you can enjoy this summer guilt-​​free. 

Beach Buff, Part II

Beach ready

Now that I’ve conquered the mini scooter world, I’m upgrading this summer to a Vespa (thanks Mom!).  For an Italian girl, it just doesn’t get any better than that!  Because it has more power than my little Bajaj, I had to go to scooter school — otherwise known as a mandatory motorcycle safety course.  Of course, with more power comes more responsibility so I’m going to have to learn how to handle my classic Italian dream machine from starting, accelerating, maneuvering, avoiding obstacles and stopping safely.  If your desire is to upgrade to a better, more powerful body this summer, you’ll need to know the rules of the “ripped” road. 

Beach Buff

Beach

Last summer my dad gave us a scooter he’d had in storage for quite a while.  It’s a little bitty thing — think motorized bicycle versus high powered rocket — but man is it fun to ride.  We did some basic maintenance on it over the weekend, checking tire pressure, replacing gear box fluid, etc..  You could tell it had been idle for years by the black, sticky fluid that drained off.  Now it’s running like a champ.  It is amazing what the right fuel will do for a simple engine to help it perform at its peak.  If you’re looking for leaner abs and a carved physique this summer, maybe it’s time to give your muscles a tune up too.

Banish Belly Fat, Seriously?

concordnc.gov

Okay, I know exactly what you are thinking, “Here we go again, there’s something else I have to give up in order to lose weight.”  It’s no wonder the weight-​​loss industry is booming as fast as our collective bellies are growing — sucking you into the latest diet fad or weight-​​loss product promising to shrink your belly once and for all.  Gismos, gadgets, pills, and powders may have caused more harm than good.  They are that “something shiny” that distracts our attention away from a common sense approach to losing belly fat.  Let’s see if we can bust a few myths along with a few unwanted inches. 

Bikinis or Briefs

Lifeguards at the beach

As a teenager, I had my share of traumatic moments…haven’t we all?  My most devastating moment came was when I asked my mom for my first 2-​​piece swimsuit.  My ultra-​​conservative father would only agree to it with his prior approval.  There I stood in the glare of fluorescent department store lighting awaiting a thumbs up or down.  Finally, my over-​​inflated teenaged humiliation was replaced with jubilation when I was approved for my first bikini.  Unfortunately, for most of us, men and women alike, the burgeoning summer season creates its own grown-​​up trauma when a slip into our swimsuits reveals more belly than brawn.  This week, we’ll explore some surprising ways to banish our bellies.

Jump Start to Slim Down

Good Morning!

Are you one of those perky morning people who wakes up refreshed and ready to take on the day with a smile on your face, a head full of ambition, and a can-​​do attitude?  If you had met me several years ago, you would have agreed that I was the polar opposite: grumpy, crabby, sleepy, sneezy…my own little version of the seven dwarfs!  My family and co-​​workers knew to keep their distance until I came to life, which was usually around 10am.  If you make more enemies than friends in the morning, maybe it’s time to look at better ways to fuel your day which may lead to a sunnier disposition and a slimmer you.

Fat Burners

Whiteman AFB

I’ve always been a fan of clever marketing — you know those commercials that get your attention with funny lines, edgy graphics or memorable characters?  My favorite spot lately is the guy who goes around telling people to feed their lawns.  The hook is that he’s got a really cool, thick Scottish accent that gets your attention when he says, “Feed you’re lawn, Feed et!”  Now, instead of the mundane spring task of seeding and fertilizing your lawn, you feel like Braveheart rallying his troops to slay the enemy in an epic battle of grass versus dandelions.  With that image in mind and summer weather on its way, maybe it’s time we “burn the fat…burn et!” 

How Do I Look?

Young Girl Playing By Herself

One of my favorite classic skits from Saturday Night Live was when comedian, Billy Crystal, played Fernando, a superficial and overtly sexual latin night club performer who greeted everyone with the phrase, “Dahling, you look mahvelous.”  His character lived by a personal credo that it was always “better to look good than to feel good.”  Maybe we all have a little Fernando in each of us with our desire to look good.  While I don’t believe we are all vain and self-​​absorbed like Fernando, could it be that we put a bigger price tag on our outward appearance than our inner health?  This month, let’s focus on ways to feel good from the inside out starting with our body composition.

The A’s of April: Are You Worth It?

Money fork

I’ve been working on a number of home improvement projects lately.  This weekend I tackled the kitchen, walk-​​in pantry and guest bathroom — Ugh!  What astonished me in cleaning out cabinets was all of the stuff I’ve accumulated from wedding gifts, to inherited treasures, to just plain junk.  The hardest part of de-​​cluttering for me is letting go of things.  It is a family characteristic to keep things if they pass two basic tests:  could it be worth money or will I potentially need it someday.  Forget the fact that just a minute ago I didn’t even know I owned it!  Maybe you’re guilty of the same behavior especially when it comes to your health.  You may not know what your health is worth until you lose it.  As we close out April, let’s do some spring cleaning of our own and find out what your health is worth, now and later. 

The A’s of April: Apples

Military child enjoying an apple

It must be a right of passage for most kids, watching classic Disney films like Cinderella, Snow White, Dumbo, and Pinocchio, just to name a few.  In true Disney form, there is always a hero or heroine who must overcome his or her fears to defeat the evil witch, monster or various inanimate objects brought to life by overzealous animators.  To this day I can’t tell you everything that happened in those movies as my view was inevitably obstructed by the clever hands-​​over-​​eyes technique employed whenever something scary was about to happen like the Evil Queen who tempts innocent Snow White to bite into a poisonous apple.  “This is no ordinary apple.  It’s a magic wishing apple,” says the queen, enticingly.  Fortunately, for us, our apple crunching outcome is far more positive.  As apple trees begin to blossom, check out the amazing health benefits of apples. 

The A’s of April: Aromatherapy

Gardenia flower

In desperate need of a warm up, we ventured down to sunny Florida last week.  Mark’s parents have a lovely home there and it has become our winter respite.  Our daily routine includes tennis, golf and a swim in the pool which includes a walk by the neighbors Gardenia bush — my favorite flower.  In fact,  Gardenias were the centerpiece of my high school prom bouquet.  While other girls had corsages, my date went all out with a bridal like bouquet that he insisted I carry it all evening.  Okay, awkward!  Even though the details of the dance have faded, I am amazed at the power of scent to trigger memories.  It’s no wonder aromatherapy has become such a beneficial tool in our wellness arsenal.  What better way to celebrate the bloom of spring than with the power of the flower.

Easy Weight Loss with the Right Cardio Training

Easy weight loss 3

If you’ve put on a few pounds since bootcamp and want an easy way to lose weight, then this is perfect for you. If you’ve got something coming up, a sports event, a fitness test, a class reunion, or beach vacation where that gut you’ve been sucking in will be unleashed (or unbuckled), then this is for you too.

Losing weight doesn’t have to be a losing battle. And as they say, starting is the hardest part. Sure, some people say sticking with it is harder, but when you see results and you feel those results, then sticking with the workout plan becomes very easy…and we’re going to talk about how to easily burn those calories, lose the fat, and get in better shape in just weeks.

Questions /​ Answers on Fitness Basics — Things to Consider

Questions and Answers on Fitness Basics

Good questions with answers below…

(1) How long is a workout? Should it be a half-​​hour or a full hour?

Depends on your goals and current fitness level. 30 min is great for a beginner /​ maintenance plan or high intense workout. 60+ min is needed for longer events like marathons, triathlons, spec ops training, but fine for a body building workout. Like I said — all depends…

Mine are usually 2–3 hours long full of calisthenics, running, swimming mix in the summer and shorter with weights and light cardio in the winter — see how

Fact: Better Soldiers Have Less Body Fat

less body fat 1

According to scientists at the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory of the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition of the University of Pittsburgh less body fat improves physical and physiological performance in army soldiers.

According to results of this study soldiers meeting the Department of Defense (DoD) body fat standard and those exceeding the standard were subjected to a Wingate cycle protocol to test anaerobic power and capacity, an incremental treadmill maximal oxygen uptake test for aerobic capacity, isokinetic tests for knee flexion/​extension and shoulder internal/​external rotation strength, and the Army Physical Fitness Test.

Results showed that group 1 performed significantly better on 7 of the 10 fitness tests. In Soldiers with similar amounts of FFM, Soldiers with less body fat had improved aerobic and anaerobic capacity and increased muscular strength.

The A’s of April: Asthma

Fishing competition Hickam AFB

Learning to fish is a rite of passage for most kids, boys and girls alike.  I remember catching my first fish on Kelly’s Island in Ohio while on our annual summer camping trip with family and friends.  My elation turned to terror when I watched my poor little prize gasp for breath while it flopped around the bottom of the boat.  With my arms flailing and my fish’s fins flapping, I managed to release the hook and return him to the water. Apparently, fishing was not my calling.  It did, however, teach me good lessons in patience, coordination, boating and even a bit about biology.  There are very few things that panic both fish and people more than the inability to catch our breath.  As we continue our A’s of April series, let’s look at how we can improve our odds against asthma.