Archive for April, 2012
“You have to be kidding,” I said to the crew member checking my daughter in for her flight to England from the States last week. He had just told her she might not be able to carry her tennis racquet on board because it could be used as a weapon. We waited for him to show the racquet to a homeland security officer, who ruled that it was harmless enough to carry on.
Golf clubs, skis, yoga mats, tennis racquets and other sports equipment are not only cumbersome to travel with but are increasingly expensive now that many airlines charge fees for checked baggage. My daughter’s experience prompted me to think about the best sports and exercise gear for traveling, particularly when it comes to fitting it in your suitcase.
Renting sports equipment when you travel, or staying in hotels with gyms or arrangements with a gym or a pool nearby is one solution. But there are also some inexpensive easily packable options for exercise on the road.
I like to take my Resistance Bands Pro 6 (www.suspensiontrainer.co.uk ). It includes two handles, ankle straps, a door anchor and eight bands of varying levels (the thicker the material, the more strength required to stretch it), and which takes up little space once tucked into its travel bag. Then, no matter where I am — from my room to a rooftop deck — I have the option of standing on the band and doing arm curls and overhead presses, attaching it to a door for pull downs and push downs, or even slipping it around a pole for chest and shoulder exercises. (£69.95, or $113).
Amy Moore, whose work as a film producer has taken her regularly to South Africa and London, travels with her blow-up exercise ball by Gaiam (www.gaiam.com) $19.98, including a pump. “When I get off long plane rides the first thing I do is blow it up and lie on it to stretch out my back in the hotel room,” Ms. Moore said. “It helps with general stiffness from the plane, but it is also great for doing abdominal exercises, as well as leg and arm repetitions.” The 55-centimeter ball comes with workout instructions on a DVD.
Daniel Lyon, an instructor in New York at the Real Pilates studio and the author of the book, “The Complete Book of Pilates for Men,” noted that fitting in exercise when traveling for work or vacation can be difficult. But, he said, “It is essential to loosen up the joints, get the body hydrated and the oxygen going so you can feel good and enjoy the trip.” Mr. Lyon said Pilates was good on the road because all that is needed is a soft surface and some space: a carpeted floor or the beach.
Pilates practitioners and yogis might also want to invest in a mat that travels easily. The eKO SuperLite Mat (www.manduka.com) has a good grippable surface, weighs only about 2 pounds, or 0.9 kilograms, and folds easily. It is made of biodegradable rubber that doesn’t fade or flake ($39).
Julie Tamarkin, a yoga instructor and world traveler (she once practiced yoga on the deck of a boat cruising down the Nile) recommended non-skid yoga socks and gloves as an alternative to packing a mat. Gaiam carries them for $9.98 for the gloves to $19.98 for the socks. “You don’t get the padding of a mat, but you can still move through sun salutations and many other poses,” she said, adding, “It helps to step outside your normal routine when you travel. Take the opportunity to practice however you can — even just taking five minutes to stand in Tadasna with healthy alignment and breathe (no props needed) can work wonders.”
Ms. Tamarkin also travels with her Vibram FiveFingers shoes (www.vibramfivefingers.com). About $80 a pair, they look like a combination of gloves and aqua shoes (each toe has a slot and they are waterproof). “They energize my feet, stimulate my body from the ground up and counteract the negative effects of wearing shoes by spreading your toes, rather than pinching them.”
Raymond DiPrinzio, a banker who is training for a marathon and travels a lot for work, is a big fan of the Run Keeper App (runkeeper.com), which works anywhere in the world. “It’s GPS-based so it tracks my runs and has decent coaching and very good integration of music,” he said.
For those who don’t think they can fit one more thing in their suitcase, Ms. Moore recommends taking just one small object with you on vacation that will help you to exercise. “A measuring tape,” she said. “I put it around my waist. If the number is higher on any given morning, I walk more.”
J. Patric Schneider, For The Chronicle
Copyright 2012 Houston Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Updated 05:56 p.m., Monday, April 30, 2012
Montgomery girls keep up dominance at 4A golf
After the first day of the Class 4A golf tournament, the Montgomery girls are in position to keep making history. Huntsville’s…
Are You Aware That the Right Weight Lifting Routines Can Mean The Difference Between Success and Failure?
There are dozens of weight lifting routines out there with different philosophies of training.
Regardless all weight lifting routines will have a few core concepts that must be followed in order to ensure success.
Finding the best weight lifting routines is a very important part of your bodybuilding development. Depending on your goals there are many training routines that have been developed by professional bodybuilders and experts in physiology from which you can use to train with. Not all programs will work for all people, but some will work on certain basic aspects of bodybuilding goals for everyone.
It all depends on what your goals are. But regardless this article will provide some of the fundamental concepts that must be followed in all routines. If you are a beginner to weight lifting routines and looking for good results you will follow a different training protocol than someone who is an advanced lifter. If you are more advanced you’ll need something different for change and stimulus for your muscles.
Choosing the proper weight lifting routines are simple but can also become confusing, unless you know what you want.
For example, as a beginner you may be looking to tone up instead of bulking up, in which case you have to choose a toning routine. On the other hand if you are looking to increase size in your body and your muscles then you need to choose a routine for muscle bulking.
Routines are composed of the following:
Routine = Reps, Sets and Rest
What are Reps?
Reps generally in weight lifting routines consist of repetitive movements with a fixed weight. So for example we may do a single set of 8 reps. Or we may do multiple sets of 8 reps. The reps are important in any weight lifting routines because they can stimulate the growth or calorie burning effect during the workout. Usually reps for power are between 1 – 6 reps per set. Reps for muscular hypertrophy and size is done at 8 – 12 reps and for muscular endurance done at 15 plus reps.
What are sets?
The number of sets weight lifting routines depend on the level of fitness an individual possesses. Beginners usually can only do 2 to 3 sets per muscle group where as advanced bodybuilders can knock off up to 6 sets per muscle group. More sets doesn’t necessarily mean a better result. You could get the same desired result in 3 sets that you can in 6. However the intensity of the 3 sets would have to be very high, almost to failure.
What is Rest and why is it important in weight lifting routines?
Rest is perhaps one part of weight lifting that is regularly ignored. Rest is the only way you grow and improve. Without enough rest your muscles don’t have the chance to perform at their best. Your muscles grow when you sleep not when you workout. So always remember to add rest into your weight lifting routines. How much rest depends on what the individuals goal is and how hard your last training session was. For example if your goal is to bulk up you biceps and you had an intense training session3 days ago and your biceps still feel sore then you may need to rest an extra day before you pump them again. There is no fixed time on how long to rest. Usually a trained muscle will recover within 24 to 48 hours max. However there is an exception to every rule. So make sure you rest fully before training the same muscles.
Remember that good weight lifting routines consist of these three main components and put together in the proper form can command great results.
So bleak was the financial situation at the Greater Tacoma Convention Trade Center in March 2009 that manager David Bobo wrote to his supervisor, Mike Combs, saying “answers need to be found before it reaches crisis proportions in less than two years.”
So bad was communication between Bobo and Tacoma City Hall that three months later he wrote Combs to say that the issue had not been confirmed, denied or otherwise addressed by the city’s finance department.
“If we are wrong, just tell us we are wrong,” Bobo said. “If we are not wrong and the situation is not being addressed, I have an obligation to our staff and clients to begin preparing for the cessation of operations.”
He told Combs, then director of facilties for the city, “It seems we are only a few short months away from this situation getting very ugly.”
Three years later, that ugliness is about to find daylight.
The City Council likely will be asked next year to take a yet-to-be determined amount of money from the general fund to supplement the cost of operations at the 8-year-old convention center in downtown Tacoma.
The convention center is funded by three primary sources – revenue from meetings and conventions plus contributions from a hotel-motel tax and a 0.033 percent cut of the state sales tax collected in parts of Pierce County. The center is not expected to produce a profit, but neither did projections have the city providing money from the general fund.
These revenue sources had been expected to cover the cost of operations and, with a supplement from a city parking fund, to cover the scheduled redemption of a $32 million convention center bond issue.
But when the three revenue streams went slack, primarily because of the recent recession, and when city officials went to the parking fund – they found that funds had been used for other projects.
A draw on the general fund would come at a time when the city faces a projected deficit of some $22 million in 2013 and $24 million in 2014 – deficits that already have led to cuts in jobs and programs.
“The finance department is making a projection,” city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said in March. “In 2013 … the general fund will have to support operations.”
Beyond that, the city isn’t saying much. On March 8 The News Tribune requested documents related to specific expenditures from the parking fund in 2004-2010. The city has yet to fully answer the request. Some figures have been provided, but they are not correlated to specific accounts.
The decisions that led to the convention center’s financial problems – specifically the use of the parking fund – came during the six-year tenure of City Manager Eric Anderson. He left the job in July after the City Council declined to renew his contract and paid him severance pay to leave early.
Anderson has not returned calls for comment.
His successor, T.C. Broadnax, said earlier this month, concerning the impact of the parking fund deficit on the general fund: “I think it’s another budget challenge we face. The main focus has to be with working with the council to resolve the general fund budget. The budget process will be open and we will engage the community. There will be clarity and opportunities for them to ask the appropriate questions and receive the appropriate answers about where every dollar has gone.”
This early in his tenure at City Hall, Broadnax said he is not yet familiar with the details of the convention center situation.
But City Councilman Jake Fey, who is familiar with the situation, called it “unfortunate.”
“The big disappointment was that there weren’t reserves,” he said. “The reserves were moved.”
And there could be more ugliness ahead for the city.
Mark Rapozo of the State Auditor’s Office is investigating the city’s obligation to repay a 2004 convention center revenue bond issue of $32 million.
At best, Rapozo could find that revenues, expenditures and accounts related to the convention center were properly earned and distributed. At worst, he could discover money was mishandled, which could lead to possible legal penalties against those responsible.
Simply put: Funds that some officials expected would be stored in reserve against hard times were spent on other city projects. Oversight was loose. Questions went – and continue to be – unanswered.
When it opened in 2004, the convention center took Tacoma into the larger leagues of hosting regional gatherings.
Where once the city could welcome trade shows and conventions to the University of Puget Sound Fieldhouse or the Winthrop Hotel – and later to the Bicentennial Pavilion or the Tacoma Dome arena – now it could compete with centers in Spokane, Yakima, Portland, Boise and other Northwest cities.
Juli Wilkerson, then head of the city’s economic development office, boasted in 2001, as the idea of a center began to percolate, that it would create an annual $55 million in economic juice.
It was one of those numbers economic development professionals use that never can be confirmed.
Multiply the number of expected guests by the amount of money they might be expected to spend – on such things as rooms, meals, tips, rental cars, parking, gasoline, souvenirs and museum admissions – and then proudly welcome a new age of civic prosperity.
The goal was to attract “heads and beds,” out-of towners who came to Pierce County to attend conventions, trade shows and meetings. They would spend new money, and that money would generate tax revenue and create jobs.
Convention centers typically find it difficult to make a profit themselves.
The consulting group CSL reported to the city in March that among 25 comparable convention centers nationwide, all but two lost money in 2011. The average loss was $1.48 million during the most recently completed fiscal year, where the Tacoma facility showed a loss of $2.08 million.
So why build a convention center if it may not make money?
“It drives tax revenue as well as business,” said Vickie Howarden, president and CEO of the Texas-based International Association of Venue Managers.
The center attracts visitors who otherwise wouldn’t come to Tacoma, Mayor Marilyn Strickland said.
“It’s an anchor, and it’s a significant landmark,” she said. “I want people to view the convention center as an asset. The ability to say we have a convention center – I think it gives you the position as a city that is worth visiting.”
At a cost of more than $80 million to build, the convention center was paid for in part by the $32 million bond issue, the proceeds of which would go to construction of the center and improvements to the city’s parking facilities..
The bonds would be repaid and the center maintained using money collected from three sources: convention center revenues, a hotel-motel tax and a 0.033 percent slice of the state sales tax as collected in Tacoma, Fife, Lakewood, University Place and unincorporated Pierce County.
If those funds fell short, a backup would include revenue from the city’s parking system. After deducting the cost of parking operations, that fund would be available to make those bond repayments.
On paper, all was well.
Until it wasn’t.
Problems started early.
Between 2004 and 2009, revenues from the three designated sources totaled about $48.8 million and expenses were about $63.3 million.
In 2008 and 2009, revenue from the sales tax fell nearly $500,000 behind projections, primarily because of the recession.
Parking revenues fell below expectations every year between 2004 and 2009, according to figures provided by the city. Actual parking revenues in 2004 fell $512,000 below city projections. By 2009, parking revenues were $1.4 million less than originally pledged to the bond repayment.
Contributions from the hotel-motel tax – $3.9 million in 2004 – fell to $1.2 million the next year but later rebounded to range between $2.8 million in 2010 and $4.9 million in 2007.
Convention center operating revenues of $2.6 million in 2008 fell to $2.19 million in 2009 and $1.7 million in 2010.
The convention center was not selling enough dates to cover expenses. The sales tax had been reduced as consumers stopped spending money thanks to the economy. Other sources of income had become unpredictable.
And when Bobo’s warning about financial problems at the convention center finally were addressed – when it came time to use the reserves in the parking fund – those reserves weren’t available.
The money wasn’t there.
According to a 2009 memo – from a bond rating service to City Manager Eric Anderson and Bob Biles of the finance department – when the convention center opened in 2004, “the city had built up a $19.3 million operating reserve to subsidize convention center operations in the early years after $10 million was used for construction.”
Former finance director Steve Marcotte said in an interview that he believes some of the reserves were spent on South Park Plaza, a mixed-use parking-office-retail development project in downtown Tacoma. That facility, now called Pacific Plaza, opened in 2009..
He said he believes the current threat to the general fund derives from using money for purposes other than preserving the convention center reserves.
The problem was, he believes, that in the years after construction some of the money was spent on other city projects.
Although the question has been asked, the city finance department has yet to officially detail the use of the funds.
The bottom line, said Marcotte, now retired, was “somehow magic money was provided. Well, it wasn’t magic. It was just a depletion of the parking reserves.”
There had been money held in reserve, he said. And then the money was gone.
Who decided to spend those funds rather than keep them in reserve?
“Fiduciary responsibility for parking revenue/use rests with the city manager,” Jeff Litchfield of the finance department said in an email earlier this year.
Officials knew the city could not meet its obligations to the convention center without the parking reserves, Bobo, the convention center’s manager, said in a recent interview.
“I don’t think there was some sinister plot,” he said. “It seemed to me that the people who were doing it were doing it to pay legitimate bills, but again, you’ve borrowed a lot of money and you’ve also told people how you were going to pay it back, and suddenly you’re not paying attention to that. We asked them to put it back.”
They did not put it back.
By 2009, the financial situation was such that the convention center might be forced to close, Bobo said in his email to Combs, his supervisor and the director of public facilities. “The funds are not going into the reserve and it is diminishing at a rapid rate,” he stated. “(The finance department is) aware of this situation but I thought you should be as well.”
He said he heard nothing in return.
“Since we sounded the alarm, no one from (the finance department) addressed our concerns,” Bobo said in a recent interview. “They wanted me to shut up, basically. I wasn’t high enough up on the pecking order. I’m ringing the bell, but I’m not on anybody’s radar. It was crickets.”
Combs, recently retired, said, “If it had been up to me, I would have looked (earlier) at what we were facing. It would have been more fiscally responsible to take care of that debt earlier.”
Combs said he did ask in a meeting with senior staff, including Anderson, the city manager, where the parking revenues were being spent. The answer, as he recalls: “Various city projects.”
“I wasn’t surprised the money was used,” he said. “I was surprised that it wasn’t returned.”
MISTAKES, QUESTIONS, SOLUTIONS
On March 20, Jeff Litchfield of the city’s finance department, writing for department director Bob Biles, reported to the city clerk that previous calculations related to the parking system and the convention center bonds “submitted from 2005 to 2010 were in error.”
Without specifying the errors, Litchfield included in his letter a revised set of figures that net parking revenues between 2005 and 2011 ranged from a low of $2.13 million in 2010 to a high of $2.7 million in 2007.
If Bobo noted a deficit in the convention center’s bottom line – all revenues minus total expenses – of $4.5 million in 2007, and again of $3.1 million in 2009, so did some members of the Public Facilities Board have questions.
The district board, which oversees the 0.033 cut from the state sales tax, has no legal means to enforce any changes or conduct any investigation.
Still, there were questions.
At the annual PFD board meeting in 2009, Tim Farrell asked how the facility was performing against requirements of the bond.
He was told only that the city, in case of trouble, “will have to make up the shortfall.”
“We kept asking if we should do more, then watching the money go from there to there,” Farrell said.
Frustrated at this fecklessness, he acknowledges that the board has neither the power nor the authority to act.
In 2010, board member Tammy Blount asked for financial details concerning any impact on the city’s general fund.
She said recently that she received no answer.
Actually, someone did know the answers. In a December 2009 memo from Karen Ribble, director of Fitch Ratings – the bond rating service – to Bob Biles of the city’s finance department, she notes a draft press release that states “…recent projections indicate the convention center may require temporary and/or permanent general fund operational support well in excess of original expectations.”
And so, by 2010, the promises by convention center proponents that the bonds would easily be repaid had gone sour. Earlier expectations that the general fund would be safe had faded.
Tacoma officials did have an answer for dealing with how to get money to cover the convention center costs and avoid an approaching default.
They would refinance the 2004 bonds.
“The concept of refinancing the bonds began in 2010 as a way to manage cash flows during the economic downturn,” said Jeff Litchfield of the city’s finance department. “At the time of refinancing, it was projected the economy would begin its recovery within the next three years.”
Though one City Council member described the refinancing plan as simply “kicking the can down the road,” raising $5 million in new bonds would cover the costs of bonds maturing in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
That would mean added debt, but the extra borrowed funds would enable the city, in the short term, to pay less than initially planned to retire the bonds.
The added debt would be repaid after 2012, adding to the annual debt service.
Rather than an expected annual debt service of just over $5 million, by 2015 the cost would rise above $6 million. Only after 2020 would the annual cost begin to dip back toward the originally planned debt service – which would fall to above $4 million in 2025. The total debt extends through 2036.
There is no guarantee that parking revenues and the sales tax revenues will be sufficient to repay the bonds as projected, which could mean, given the vagaries of the economy, that a further supplement will be required.
Despite the potential problems, the City Council approved the three-year bond refinancing in 2010.
As it turned out, refinancing the bonds “makes the budget situation we’re in that much more problematic,” said Jake Fey, a city councilman known as a close reader of the city’s budget. “I think it was glossed over lightly.”
Transferring parking revenues to other projects “sounds like a money-snatch,” he said.
“In this form of government you have to rely on the ethics and competence and professionalism of the city manager,” he continued.
Fey said Bobo’s email should have sounded an alarm three years ago.
“That a city employee was crying for help – that doesn’t surprise me. I guess it’s unfortunate it doesn’t surprise me,” he said.
Should the City Council have seen this problem coming?
“It would be unfair to say the City Council was negligent,” Fey said. “If he (the city manager) does a transfer, how am I supposed to know? How could you possibly be expected to watch all of these things?”
Councilman Ryan Mello said he has asked for detailed information on all the city’s funds.
“The mystery you’re trying to solve,” he said, “is the epitome of the way a lot of information has been handled and the cause of lots of other mysteries – and that’s one of the reasons Eric Anderson is no longer city manager.”
Councilman Joe Lonergan called the upcoming pinch on the city’s general fund to cover the convention center’s costs “alligator jaws.”
“We’re going to have to get into the details,” he said. “We’ve been looking at the big picture.”
Someone else already is looking at the details.
Rapozo, Tacoma-based program manager with the State Auditor’s Office, met with employees at the city’s finance department a few weeks ago to begin reviewing bond covenants.
“We’re pulling the bond statement and the covenants and we’re going to look at compliance with the covenants,” he said. “If they specifically call for a parking reserve fund, we will be auditing to ensure that that fund was created and was being managed or maintained in accordance with those covenants.”
The state auditor has no enforcement authority, but can issue its findings to other authorities.
“This is a sensitive matter,” he said. “We’ve had a conversation with other folks. Right now, I don’t have a lot to look at. We’ll be looking deeper.”
He said he expects the results of his audit will be available in November.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535/ email@example.com
NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Exercise is strong medicine.
Dr. Michael Fulton, 65, built a career on those words, helping design Nautilus and MedX workout equipment and then founding his own medical exercise facility in Daytona Beach.
Now he is taking that same philosophy to New Smyrna Beach, where he has acquired the Nautilus by the Sea gym at 1327 Saxon Drive, a workout spot that uses the equipment he helped create.
“Lean body tissue is our business here,” Fulton said. “We probably have the closest handle on really understanding the importance of muscle and its relationship to health than probably anybody else in this area.”
The death of Bernd Wilczewski, Nautilus by the Sea’s previous owner, this past year led to the purchase. Fulton had a close relationship with Wilczewkski and was mulling buying the gym shortly before Wilczewski’s death.
Fulton has lived in New Smyrna Beach for three decades.
The 4,500-square-foot gym features 30 pieces of selectorized strength equipment, primarily from Nautilus and MedX, free weights and 15 pieces of aerobic workout equipment. Yoga and Pilates are available, and plans are in the works to offer Zumba. A typical membership is $45 a month. Day, month and yearly rates are available.
Taking over Nautilus by the Sea is just the latest stage in a long, fruitful career for Fulton.
During the early 1980s, he assisted in the development of Nautilus, a Lake Helen startup that introduced the concept of selectorized strength equipment. These new machines introduced a more targeted approach to strength training to the gym.
He also served as the team physician for the U.S. Water Ski Team for nearly two decades and continues to assist both professional and collegiate athletes.
Seventeen years ago, Fulton opened the Green Acres medical exercise facility on International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach.
The facility is equipped with specialized exercise equipment by MedX, along with a heated pool for aquatic strengthening. It offers remedial rehabilitation for spinal, knee and sports-related injuries and one-on-one personal training programs.
Business at Green Acres is a family affair.
Fulton’s son, Dr. Brent Fulton, is a physician at Green Acres. His other son, Chris Fulton, serves as the business manager. His wife, Nancy Fulton, is the office administrator.
The Fultons hope to link Green Acres and Nautilus by the Sea’s services together as much as possible. Patients at Green Acres who complete their physical rehabilitation there would be able to continue strength training at Nautilus.
Brent Fulton is just as big a champion of the benefits of muscle as his father.
Studies show that in addition to increased strength and fitness, people with more muscle are better able to regulate their blood pressure and enjoy other health benefits.
Sometimes, physicians will refer to the heart “as the engine of the body.”
Brent Fulton thinks differently.
“At the best, the heart is a fuel pump,” he said. “The thing that is really keeping the body moving and going is the muscle.”
Is your bathroom scale lying about whether your weight is healthy — or a health threat? The obesity epidemic is bad enough, but along comes a study that indicates that the widely used, 200-year-old healthy-weight formula is underestimating the risk for nearly half of all women and more than 20 percent of men whose body-fat levels are dangerously high. The good news? This research can help you live longer and become younger.
That’s because you can be a normal weight, according to your body mass index, and be toting around extra abdominal fat that the BMI doesn’t take into account.
The problem? BMI, which is computed using your weight and your height, can’t distinguish between lean, sexy, healthy muscle and excess body fat — especially belly fat, which raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, worsening arthritis, dementia and more.
Wondering where you stand? Healthy body-fat percentages for women ages 20 to 39 are 21 percent to 32 percent; ages 40 to 59 are 23 percent to 33 percent; and 60+, 24 percent to 35 percent. For men ages 20 to 39, 8 percent to 19 percent; 40 to 59, 11 percent to 21 percent; and 60+, 13 percent to 24 percent. The researchers at New York University School of Medicine used a full-body scan to measure body fat in 1,400 people for their new BMI-bad-news study. But you can do just as good a job if you just grab a tape measure and throw it around your middle.
Waist size, it turns out, is a super-accurate way to measure risky belly fat. You may have some on board if your waist measures 35 inches or more for women, or more than 39 inches for men. (Put a tape measure around at your belly button — and suck in!) But the health risks that come with belly fat actually begin about 3 inches before that! So, if your numbers need a trim, focus on strategies that build muscle. Lean body tissue burns calories around the clock, preventing or even reversing belly-fat expansion. Don’t simply diet; slashing calories slashes precious muscle mass, too.
Instead, four simple steps can nudge your body composition back into the safety zone — and none involves the words diet, calories or weigh-in.
Munch muscle-protecting protein. How much protein do you need? Simply multiply your weight in pounds by 0.4. If you’re 165 pounds, that’s about 66 grams of protein. Get yours from fish (32 grams of protein in 4 ounces of salmon or trout), skinless poultry and plants (kidney beans, nuts and edamame have 16 to 18 grams of protein per cup). With vegetarian protein, you also get fiber, protective plant phytochemicals — and no saturated fat.
Get chummy with healthy fats. Nuts (especially walnuts’ omega-3s and macadamia nuts’ omega-7′s), fish, avocados, seeds and a splash of canola oil are bursting with unsaturated fats that help your body listen up when leptin, the “I’m full” hormone, says “Put down the fork and back away from the table.” Eat fish a couple of times a week and enjoy a small handful of nuts every day to restore your body’s natural leptin sensitivity. Choosing these hunger-fighters, instead of foods brimming with saturated fat, helps, because that greasy stuff actually turns down your body’s production of leptin.
Pump some iron, pull some rubber or leverage your own body weight. Aim for three 20-minute strength-training sessions per week. Using a weight that exhausts you with 12 repetitions builds muscle; resistance bands are great no-impact exercises that are good for posture; and chin-ups, push ups or sit-ups (knees bent) that use your own weight build muscle safely and effectively.
Turn in earlier tonight. Short-changing yourself on sleep leads to cravings for doughnuts and super-size colas. But that’s not all. Sleep deficits also raise levels of stress hormones that order your body to store the extra calories in your torso. So turn out the lights at 9:30 or 10 tonight. Set your DVR to record your favorite late-night shows, then watch ‘em tomorrow after “The Dr. Oz Show,” while you’re doing your strength-training routine!
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.
The traditional bodyweight exercises are knee bends (squats), trunk curls, push-ups, bar dips and chin-ups. Most of us have performed these exercises, and many of us still include some of them in our conditioning program.
All five of the standard bodyweight exercises are effective for improving muscle strength and endurance, although not as productive as progressive resistance exercises performed with free weights or weight-stack machines. The reason is that bodyweight exercises permit only one means of progression – namely, more repetitions using the same bodyweight resistance.
On the other hand, weight-training exercises permit two means of progression. You first increase the number of repetitions, such as from 10 reps to 15 reps, then you increase the resistance, such as from 100 pounds to 105 pounds. Adding resistance makes the muscles adapt to a higher level of contraction tension, which greatly enhances strength development.
Nonetheless, bodyweight exercises have certain advantages. For example, they can be done almost anytime and anywhere, especially squats, trunk curls and push-ups. They require no special equipment or facilities, which make them ideal for at-home training and at-hotel training.
Unfortunately, a major problem with bodyweight exercises is redundancy. Eventually the muscles become so accustomed to your unchanging exercise regimen that they no longer respond to the training.
One way to address the problem of staleness is to change some aspect of the exercise program. Because the exercises are predetermined and the number of repetitions performed is closely tied to your fitness level, I recommend changing your movement speed. You will find that doing each bodyweight exercise more slowly makes it much more challenging. Slower movement reduces the role of momentum and forces the muscles to work a lot harder.
Our research with strength-training speed has demonstrated 50 percent better results with slower repetitions compared with faster repetitions.
With this in mind, I have designed a bodyweight exercise training program based on 10-second repetitions to maximize strength-building benefits. Each repetition is performed in the following manner:
Take 5 full seconds for each upward movement, and 5 full seconds for each downward movement. Try to do the exercises according to the performance descriptions, and breathe continuously during every repetition.
KNEE BENDS (Squats)
Begin standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart and pointing forward. Place your hands on your hips for balance. Slowly lower your hips downward and backward in 5 seconds, keeping your knees directly above your feet. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor, then slowly raise to the standing position taking 5 seconds to do so. This exercise works almost all of the muscle groups of the legs, including the front thighs (quadriceps), rear thighs (hamstrings) and hips (gluteals). Try to do three knee bends in 30 seconds, and progress gradually to six in 60 seconds. You may be surprised at how much more difficult it is to perform slow-speed knee bends.
Start this exercise by lying face-up on the floor with your knees comfortably bent (about 45 degrees). Place your hands loosely behind your head for support with your elbows out to the sides. Curl your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor very slowly (5 seconds), and return back to the starting position in 5 seconds. You will be barely moving, but your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) will be fully activated throughout the repetition. Begin with two repetitions in 20 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, and complete two more repetitions in 20 seconds. Work your way up to four repetitions in 40 seconds, rest for 40 seconds, and do four more repetitions in 40 seconds.
The key to properly performed push-ups is straight body position, which requires substantial midsection strength to prevent sagging. Begin in the up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms straight. Lower your torso slowly by bending your elbows, taking 5 seconds to touch your chest to the floor. Push yourself up very slowly and deliberately, counting from one-thousand-one to one-thousand-five before reaching the top position. Push-ups address several upper-body muscle groups, including the chest (pectoralis major), front shoulders (anterior deltoids) and rear arms (triceps). Try to do two slow push-ups in 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and perform two more slow push-ups in 20 seconds. Work your way to four slow push-ups in 40 seconds, followed by a 40-second rest, followed by four more push-ups in 40 seconds.
One of my favorite exercises is bar dips, which work the chest (pectoralis major), front shoulders (anterior deltoids), rear arms (triceps) and upper back (latissimus dorsi) muscles. Unfortunately, bar dips require parallel bars or two stable kitchen chairs for proper execution. Start in the up position, with your arms straight, your body straight and your knees bent if you are using kitchen chairs. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper and lower arm form a 90-degree angle. The lowering phase should take 5 seconds. Pause momentarily and push up slowly (5 seconds) to the starting position. Because this is a demanding exercise, I suggest doing one bar dip at a time with 20-second rests between repetitions. When four separate repetitions can be completed, reduce the rest periods to 10 seconds. When you can perform four slow bar dips in 40 seconds, you have achieved a very high level of muscular fitness in your upper body pushing muscles.
Without question, the most difficult of the bodyweight exercises is chin-ups. This exercise involves your upper-body pulling muscles, including the upper back (latissimus dorsi), rear shoulders (posterior deltoids), front arms (biceps) and, surprisingly, the abdominals (rectus abdominis). Of course, a chinning bar, or properly positioned tree limb, is necessary to perform this exercise. Begin by grasping the bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip, and hanging with your arms fully extended. Pull your chin above the bar slowly, taking 5 seconds for the upward movement. Once there, lower yourself to the starting position in 5 seconds. Try to complete two slow chin-ups within 2 minutes, gradually reducing the recovery period until you can complete four chin-ups in 2 minutes.
Because slow-speed bodyweight exercises are so physically demanding, have at least one rest day between training sessions. Keep careful records of your performance progress, and be sure to reward yourself when you reach your exercise goals.
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., teaches exercise science at Quincy College and consults for the South Shore YMCA. He has written 24 books on strength training and physical fitness.