Ten tips for a healthier body

Now that we went through one of the most difficult Milwaukee winters in years, I bet that many of you are just itching for the summer sun. Getting into beach body shape is next on your to do list. Here are 10 sure-fire fitness tips to help you on your journey towards safe and sensational summer fitness.

1.    Increase the amount that you exercise. Bottom line for any fat loss program is burning more calories than you consume. Regardless of your diet, if you are not burning enough calories, you won’t be burning any fat. 3,500 calories is the rough estimate for the energy contained in one pound of fat. This means that to lose one pound per week, you must create a deficit of 3,500 calories per week. That means a deficit of  500 calories per day. Reality is a bit more complex than this example, but this should give you a great starting point.

2.    Pace yourself. After a quiet winter, don’t go berserk. Start gradually and ramp up over a period of several weeks. Your body needs to adjust to the sudden increase in activities, especially your joints, ligaments, and tendons. By ramping up, you’ll avoid common injuries such as tendonitis and plantar fasciitis that can derail your path to healthy fitness.

3.    Hydrate. It is important to maintain proper hydration levels to having successful workouts. Things such as heat, humidity, and the amount you sweat will all affect your hydration level. To avoid dehydration, you should think about your fluid intake throughout the day. Here are some hydration tips.

    a.    Sip fluids throughout the day. Carrying a water bottle is a good way to remind you to drink more. Water is easily absorbed and accessible.

    b.    Minimize soda, alcohol, and coffee. They will dehydrate you.

    c.    Drink 1 to 2 cups fluid 2 hours before exercise and drink 1/2 to 1 cup of fluid every 15 minutes during. Following exercise drink 2 1/2 cups of fluid for each pound lost during workout.

    d.    If you are exercising for more than an hour, sports drinks are more beneficial than water. Drinking a beverage with carbs and electrolytes is recommended. Try consuming 30 to 60 grams of carbs per each hour of exercise.


4.    Buy new shoes. Renew your running shoes after every 10 months or every 500 miles of use. Did you know that athletic shoes need to be replaced even if they’re not being used? Athletic shoes have a certain shelf life; the rubber in the soles of the shoes will harden over time.

5.    Perform full body or large muscle group/multi-joint exercises (better fat burners than isolation). 
Spot reduction is a misconception, i.e. abdominal crunches will reduce fat around your waist. We lose fat globally. The fat in those “trouble areas” will be one of last places you notice reduction. I’m not discouraging isolation exercises, but the most efficient way of resistance training is engaging large muscle groups. It will both save time and burn the most calories. Examples are doing pushups off the floor or doing a squat while also incorporating a dumbbell shoulder press into the movement will give you a bigger bang for the buck than say a seated dumbbell arm curl or seated leg extension.

6.    Structure and consistency. To be successful in any exercise plan you have to have a plan and you need to make it routine. The chances of you succeeding are greatly enhanced if you know what you are supposed to do for your workouts and you do it on a consistent basis of a long period of time. For beginners or those who need guidance, a good trainer should be able to put you on an appropriate program to help you reach your fitness goals.

7.    Throw out your excuses. Make time, address old injuries that are holding you back, and realize you’re never too old to exercise. Talk to your doctor and/or seek a physical therapist with an exercise background. Exercise is good for everybody, and programs can always be modified to fit the individual regardless of health conditions.

8.    Don’t throw away your diet when eating out. This is Milwaukee and at many restaurants, the entrées you order are going to be large portions. or prepared with unfriendly butters, oils, etc. Simply try to be a smart at ordering and ask questions regarding ingredients and food preparation methods (fried, steamed, etc.) Remember ladies, the portions are the same as for the man, so ask for half portions up front and the rest to be boxed to go. Most restaurants will do this for you.

9.    Minimize your “happy hour” beverages. There is something to be said about “moderation” here. Alcoholic beverages have calories and lots of them. Generally the higher the alcohol content, the higher number of calories. Common beverages such as 6 ounces of wine will have between 120 calories (white) to 278 calories (Riesling). For beer, the darker the color, the more calories it contains. One regular 12-ounce beer has 150 calories. A 1.5 ounce shots of any 80-proof liquor – vodka, gin, rum, tequila, etc. – has 100 calories. Obviously, the kind of mixed drink you order will vary from 178 calories for gin and tonic to a frozen margarita of 246 calories. Just “a few” of these beverages can really rack up the calories, plus keep in mind that alcohol is a diuretic and can dehydrate you.

10. Cross train.
I always believe in having an exercise program that mixes resistance training, and stretching, with cardiovascular/aerobic activities. This not only keeps things interesting but it helps reduce injuries and keeps your body in balance. Aerobic exercise is great for burning calories, but resistance training is great for strengthening muscles, joints, and bones and giving you the “toned” look. Stretching is great for maintaining overall flexibility and all forms of exercise are of course good for stress reduction.


If you follow these 10 tips, you’ll be well on your way to building a fit and healthy body for the summer and beyond.  

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