Did you know that nearly a 1/3 of cancer risk can be prevented through exercise? It’s true! In fact, the American Cancer Society claims that if you eat right and don’t smoke you have factored out over half of the cancerous options available to you. I came across this information last night while studying for my nutrition quiz. My roommate and I were revolted by one of the pages that showed pictures of lung, mouth, and skin cancer (yes, life with me can be both nerdy and disgusting). Looking at these pictures made me wonder, why don’t people exercise if the benefits are so life changing?
ACS points out that simply being overweight causes your body to circulate more estrogen and insulin, which are known to increase risks of cancer when they are in higher doses. Thus, staying trim is important to reducing cancer risks. How do we do that? NOT by taking expensive dieting pills, lying on the couch, or wishing we were born athletes, but by eating a variety of healthy foods and exercising regularly-yes, REGULARLY.
Let’s start with nutrition. You have all heard to cut back on sugar, processed foods, empty calories, etc., but what does this actually look like? A good way to start is by reducing your intake of sugary drinks. Even “diet” sodas aren’t good for you, and the American Stroke Association found that drinking diet sodas daily increases your risk of heart disease by over 60%. Yikes!
Second, eat your food on smaller plates. Some people actually have a habit of putting food on their plate until it is full. Making the plate smaller might make you feel more satiated with less food. Now, I am completely opposed to starving yourself, so remember that if you’re still hungry you can always get more.
Eating more fruits and vegetables really is important, since these foods contain anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants prevent oxidation in the body’s molecules, which prevents free radical atoms from proliferating. Free radicals are highly unstable, cancerous, and spread over time. Eating more anti-oxidant rich foods will help prevent this from happening. Besides, vegetables are so pretty!
Now, for exercise, don’t be scared. Do yourself a favor and do something you will enjoy. Seriously! My exercise science professor was lecturing on Thursday about how people only stick with exercises they enjoy doing. If you like to dance, there are so many different options available (Latin, ballroom, “club,” Zumba, etc.). Find one you like and stick with it or experiment with them all! If you’re really stressed out, kick box, lift weights, run, take yoga, or try pilates. There are so many options out there; if you’re really looking you WILL find something you enjoy.
The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests 30 minutes of exercise for every day. This is about the length of a TV episode, but with no commercials! Also, exercise doesn’t have to be expensive, but even if you do shell out a few dollars it beats increasing the risk of medical bills later on down the road.
Thompson, J., & Manore M. (2012). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, Inc.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rageforst/163323638/”>rageforst</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
Many women decide to only do cardio exercises because they “don’t want to get bulky.” Admittedly, I used to be one of these people. However, I have been recently studying Mark Lauren’s publications, and he has revealed to me how silly I was being! Not only will strength training help you build a sleeker physique, but it will also help you maintain one, all without bulk!
There is a common misconception that cardio is the best way to burn fat. Now, I LOVE cardiovascular exercise, so a small piece of my soul died when I heard otherwise. Do not misunderstand me, cardio is still fantastic for you, since it increases your endurance, burns fat, and strengthens your heart; however, strength training increases your metabolism rate. When you strength train, you build muscle (duh), and muscle increases your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories even when you are just sitting on your bum. Aerobic training alone can actually burn your muscle along with your fat, so while you may burn more calories in one session than you would lifting weights, your metabolism rate stays about the same. Thus, when you do cardiovascular training, you usually burn more calories during your workout, but when you push through strength training you burn more for the next 48 hours. That adds up!
Okay, so many ladies hear this and worry that they are going to transform into Ms. Olympia.
(photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/petechons/204604597/”>petechons</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>)
Don’t be so conceited! No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER gain that much muscle without some…err…medical assistance. The human body does not naturally become incredibly bulky, especially for women. Fitness Forum explains that women naturally carry more body fat than men, which prevents us from getting bulging veins in our muscles (so sorry to disappoint, for any of you radicals out there). Kristen Fisher, a journalist for Livestrong.com, points out that testosterone is a key hormone in muscle building, and females have 20 times less testosterone than males. So really, ladies have nothing to lose with strength training! Increased metabolism rate without looking freakish? What are you waiting for?!
I do not have much experience with lifting weights, and I understand that many people may find lifting intimidating. Personally, I intend to take a weight training course next year, but not everyone has that option. I suggest starting by working with your own body weight. Attend a Pilates class, or buy a couple of DVDs if you do not have that option. So far I am enjoying Mark Lauren’s Book “You Are Your Own Gym,” and if his workouts are as great as I anticipate, I will recommend them as well. If you are complaining that your body is too heavy, then it should make some great resistance, right?
Last Tuesday I went on a run, and guess what? It SUCKED! I felt exhausted and dehydrated the entire time, and could not wait to get back home! Some of you may laugh at this, but I do not normally feel that way when I run. I usually feel empowered, focused, and peace-filled. Regardless of my red face and panting breaths, I finished my run.
(Photo Credit: www.neverstopfitness.com)
Finishing this torture reminded me of why many people do not run…because it can really suck! However, when approached properly, running can be both enjoyable and life-changing.
1. The burning sensation is also felt by your fat!
While the individual’s metabolism varies according to the size and pace of the athlete, running burns more calories than biking or walking. For example, to burn 563 calories in an hour, a 155 lb. runner would have to jog at about 5 or 6 mph. However, a biker would have to speed along at 12-14 mph. I LOVE to bike, but running does burn more calories.
2. Your heart will smile 🙂
When you run, your arteries are contracting much more rapidly than usual, which causes them to remain elastic, so your heart does not have to work as hard. This results in low blood pressure and makes the heart more efficient. According to a study at Vanderbilt University, people who did not run supposedly have 36,000 more heartbeats per day than a runner.
3. You can mend your bad relationship with your lungs!
Not surprisingly, running pushes your lungs to their maximum potential. Even when we take deep breaths, we have a tendency to only use about 50% of our lungs. However, when you are charging down the sidewalk on a hot day, your lungs are not allowed to sleep in! Running strengthens your lungs so much that even smokers have recovered their full lung potential through this sport. Now that is noteworthy!
Okay, so now I might have y’all feeling guilty about not running, but dreading getting started. Do not let this be the case! Forcing yourself to run past your potential is not only undesirable but unhealthy! Yes, UNHEALTHY! I have personally battled many running injuries, and they are not worth the extra calories burned (Note to self: you cannot keep the results when you are on crutches!).
The best running plan that I have found was published by Runner’s World (I like to call it the “Bible of Huffing and Puffing!”). I did not create this program, but I would like to share it because it is the plan that I am currently using as I recover from my injuries. This is a week by week approach to running, starting with walking for 30 minutes and building up to running for 30 minutes. Please note, I cannot be credited for developing this program, it was created by Budd Coates.
|Week One||Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes||Repeat 4 times|
|Week Two||Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes||Repeat 5 times|
|Week Three||Run 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes||Repeat 4 times|
|Week Four||Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes||Repeat 3 times|
|Week Five||Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes||Repeat 3 times|
|Week Six||Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes||Repeat 2 times, then run for 8|
|Week Seven||Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minutes||Repeat 3 times|
|Week Eight||Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes||Repeat 2 times|
|Week Nine||Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute||Repeat 2 times|
|Week 10||Run for 30 minutes||Don’t stop! You can do it!!!|
While this program will make running more enjoyable, you will always have days where you are lacking motivation. For me, that time was this Tuesday. Right around the last four minutes of my run, I wanted to quit, but then you have to start asking yourself, “What am I four minutes away from?” Are you four minutes away from a smaller waist? Lower cholesterol? Feeling more confident? NOT dreading clothes (especially swimsuit) shopping? Are these goals worth more to you than four more minutes of comfort? You know the answers to these questions, so the only question is…
Why aren’t you doing it?
The only solution is to give your sweaty self a kick in the butt and get moving!
This Monday morning started off with an astonishing scream from my roommate, Ariana.
There was a roach in our room. Oh no.
Our battle consisted of throwing our shoes, running around the dorm with half straightened hair, looking for a dude willing to crush it for us, and sitting like this for the rest of the week:
(Notice, while she’s sitting on the chair, my hands are shaky, causing the picture to be blurry. Yes, we do admit we are pansies when it comes to roaches!)
Anyway, this scare has led us to be more mindful about taking out our trash, and I receive interesting stares when I take out my trash bag of banana peels, carrot clippings, and yogurt containers, and toss it into a dumpster full of of soda cans, Reese’s wrappers, and McDonald’s bags. I don’t want to start preaching about the eating habits we shouldn’t have; instead, I want to tell you all about one you should have.
Guess what? You dieters might need to eat more.
Yep, you read me right. I see a lot of posts and hear a lot of talk about only eating a few calories a day. You might think this will make you thinner, but honestly, it actually can slow down your metabolism, decrease your chances of remaining on track, and (if you’re like me) will make you VERY irritable!
Calories are energy, and when you don’t eat enough, your thyroid slows down your metabolism to compensate for the lack of energy. It’s a survival instinct. When our bodies aren’t receiving the calories they need, they enter into “starvation mode,” so to speak. Your body knows you aren’t getting enough food, so it tries to hang on to its calories for as long as possible. Yep, that’s right. Your body thinks it’s saving your life, and the zipper on your jeans is screaming in agony.
Many people tell me that they don’t understand why they can’t lose weight, I mean, they don’t even eat breakfast!
I’m being dead serious. Don’t send your body into starvation mode!
Also, don’t think of the way you eat as a “diet.” Diets are not permanent, so neither are their results. If you’re looking for a change that will enhance the rest of your life, you’re going to have to improve your lifestyle. Let’s face it, do you really want to limit yourself to a ridiculously small amount of calories per day? I don’t! Food is my friend. If you’re not satisfied with the way you are eating, you won’t stick with it, and you will never have consistent results. With swimsuit season right around the corner, take these words to heart!
Don’t forget, feeling hungry + tired= ticked off! Fuel your body so you can live and enjoy your day completely.
Now, I’m not giving anybody free reign to go binge and eat ANYTHING. Everybody needs to eat different amounts because of varying sizes and metabolism rates. A good rule of thumb is to cut 500 calories a day. To lose one pound of fat, you have to burn 3,500 calories, and if you cut 500 a day, you can lose about a pound a week. This might be slow going at first, but it’s a much more manageable task than starving yourself! I suggest tracking what you would normally eat in a day, and then cutting 500 calories from that and seeing how that works for you. If your weight isn’t budging, you may have to cut some more, but at least your metabolism won’t be drying up. (Remember, if you exercise a little bit more, you can burn off part of those 500 calories and keep both pieces of bread on your sandwich. Ha! Take that Supermodel Diet!) Even so, be wise about what you are eating too. Your body uses the food you eat to build the cells that determine your entire physique. You literally are what you eat!
What’s your question for this week?
With a completely serious face, I ask you, if a roach were in your dorm room, what would it find in your trash can?
Okay, maybe not a COMPLETELY serious face…
How beautiful is this?!
(Photo Source: http://sites.tufts.edu/tuftslcs/special-olympics/)
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education declared that all schools must permit disabled children to participate in school sports. Promoting physical activity is supposed to be even more beneficial for disabled persons, since it helps balance out an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. We have all heard that being sedentary is dangerous, but is it really that bad?
Apparently, sitting down for over four hours a day is way scarier than the monster in your closet or your boyfriend’s crazy ex (I know, shocking). Your metabolic system slows down when you sit for an extended period of time, and your circulation slows down, which means you are burning fewer calories (you’re getting plumper, yay!). As if this wasn’t enough, your fat-burning enzymes stop breaking down triglycerides (fat), and you lose 50% of your body’s fat burning power. Yikes!
You also use less blood sugar, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even depression. Not fun!
(A little dramatic, but it gets the point across.
Apparently, even exercising for thirty minutes every day is not enough to combat these malicious outcomes. So how do you avoid all of this?
Yes, you read me right. Throw out all of the memories of your teacher yelling at you to “SIT STILL!” and fidget. I know I naturally bounce my heel when I’m sitting at my desk, constantly get up and down to refill my water bottle, and ROCK OUT when I’m at a stoplight (okay, TMI). Seriously though, the Mayo Clinic’s experiments have shown that lean people avoid sedentary lifestyles, and they tend to burn 350 more calories a day than overweight people do. That is about the equivalent of one cheeseburger (yeah!).
If you feel like you’re in an environment where fidgeting is not acceptable (which stinks!), try to stand up every half hour or do stretches when you can. If you have any stationary exercise equipment in your house, such as a treadmill, indoor bike, or elliptical, put it in from of the TV and keep moving while you receive your daily dose of mind numbing trash (no offense).
Alright, I’ve been sitting down too long to write this! Better get moving before I have to sit down for Chemistry (I feel depressed already…).
HandiCAPABLE people have fought for this, let’s all enjoy it!