30 Day Fitness Experiment

What can you do for your body in 30 days?

Hundred Pushups Update: Better Posture

After only a few pushups sessions, I awoke one day and realized that I already stood a little taller. The pushups are working muscles in my chest and back which are pulling my shoulders back and improving my posture. I can’t wait to see the results at the end of this challenge!

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June 14, 2010 Posted by | Lifestyle Fitness | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pilates Book Winner!

Curso de Instructor de Pilates
Image via Wikipedia

Congratulations to Caitlin, who won the Pilates For Weight Loss giveaway.

She recently had her second child, and her goal is to designate 30 minutes a day to working out, and lose the baby weight! Pilates is a great choice. It’s a flexible workout that doesn’t always require special equipment (except maybe some stretchy pants), and it will tone up the abs and “powerhouse” while providing a great full-body workout.


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June 10, 2010 Posted by | Giveaways, Lifestyle Fitness | , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Fitness Sunday: Your Own Two Feet

Image by Brian Auer via Flickr

A few resources for starting a simple walking program:

UK: Walkit.com, the Urban Walking Route Planner, lists walking routes by city, with options like “Point A to Point B,” “Circular,” “Via,” and “direct” or “less busy.” Also contains a wealth of resources on walking for health, walking to school or work, and going green. Great articles and blog no matter where you live.

Los Angeles: 10 Best Walking Neighborhoods on RentedSpaces.com

Midwest: Chicago Park District Walking Trails, complete with maps and mileage counts. Milwaukee Without a Car includes How-To articles for biking, walking, and ride-share, safety tips, and links to trails. Go! St. Louis, “Inspiring Fitness One Step at a Time,” has tips on preparing and training for a marathon, walking for fitness, and a host of personal stories (look for “My Story” under the Getting Started tab) for all the inspiration you’ll ever need.

What area of the world are you in? What area would you like to see covered in a future post? Please comment below.

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May 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Six Ways to Measure Your Progress Without a Bathroom Scale

The Long Walk
Image by l.gence via Flickr

Thursday Check-in Time!

I gained .5 pounds this week. Yep, I’m half a pound heavier. Documenting this (and not feeling sad about it) got me thinking about metrics: what is the best way to measure progress?

That depends partly on what your goals are. If you’re in a body building program, you probably expect to gain weight.

In this project, I’ve stated my starting weight and measurements. I’ve also stated my basic, loose goal: Lose 100 pounds. Here’s how I got that number: I did not enter my height, sex, and age into an “ideal body weight” chart. I did not wake up one day and shriek: “Oh no, I’m fat! I’d better lose 100 pounds!” I did not research a celebrity, find out her weight, and make that my goal.

What I did was this: I thought back to the time in my life when I was most fit. I tried to remember what my lifestyle was. I’ve never gone on a diet or been involved in a sport, so what I came up with was this: I was physically active, I avoided fast food and junk food, and I ate lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The physical activity I participated in so regularly was using my two legs to get me places. That’s it. At that time, I weighed about 100 pounds less than I did at the beginning of this project.

That’s why I’m using 100 pounds as a basic gauge. If, however, I find myself physically fit and active but over 120 pounds, I am not going to take extreme measures to get myself to weigh less. See, the pounds in themselves are not the measure of my progress.

Six Ways to Measure Fitness and Weight Loss Without a Bathroom Scale:

  • Waist to Hip Ratio: This is a measurement of the distribution of your body fat. People with a lot of abdominal fat are at higher risk for heart disease and other maladies. How to do it: Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For women, the number should be 0.8 or lower. For men, 1.0 or lower.
  • Vital Signs: Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels speak volumes about your health, including your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Resting Heart Rate: The fitter you are, the more efficient your heart becomes. To calculate your resting heart rate (RHR), count your pulse for one minute, before getting out of bed in the morning. Take an average over three days. The normal range is between 60-80 beats per minute, but the average rate steadily declines among people who are more physically active.
  • Endurance: The more you exercise, the easier it becomes. Find a way to log your mileage if you walk or bike. Compare what you can do at the beginning of the month with what you can do at the end of the month.
  • Body Composition: Your body composition can be measured by a doctor, or at a gym or university. There are several methods of testing. What it tells you: A body composition test tells you what percentage of your body is composed of fat. 32% is considered obese for women; 26% is considered obese for men.
  • Clothing Size: The good ol’ dress size test. If you can fit into clothes you couldn’t before, you’ve improved your body. You don’t need a bathroom scale to tell you that.
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April 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Physical Activity a Family Affair

You already know the benefits of regular exercise:

    family hike
    Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr
  • Weight Management
  • Bone Health
  • More Energy
  • Better Sleep
  • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
  • Reduced Risk of Diabetes
  • Increased Life Expectancy

When is the best time to start reaping these benefits? Should everyone wait until they’re an overweight, at-risk adult?

Of course not!

Lifestyle Fitness is a concept that basically means: You don’t have to have a gym membership, a personal trainer, and a dire prognosis to be fit and healthy. Make physical fitness a way of life.

If It’s Your Way of Life, It Will Be Your Children’s, Too.

Julia climbing at Shelf Road
Image by s_mestdagh via Flickr
    Here Are a Few Things You Can Do:

  • Go for a daily walk together. A couple of blocks after dinner time works wonders.
  • Choose a far parking spot. While everyone else is competing for the ones nearest the door, you might even get in sooner!
  • Play games. Instead of passive entertainment (like watching TV), opt for an activity that engages both the mind and body, like catch, tag, or basketball. For younger ones, even Duck Duck Goose and Ring Around the Rosy will get their hearts pumping.
  • Plan fit vacations. Going on a road trip? Include some hiking, biking, or swimming. Feeling more adventurous? Take the family rock climbing or sailing. Many companies that rent out equipment also have beginners lessons or guided group activities. Even if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, there will be plenty of planned outings at each port.
  • Eat (and serve) a variety of fruits and vegetables. This is an easy habit to start when your children are infants. Making your own baby food is not difficult, and exposing young children to a variety of foods will help them have a balanced diet later.

How have you incorporated wholesome nutrition and physical activity into your family’s routine? Share your tips and ideas below.

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April 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

If a Family of Eight Can Do It…

California here I come~
Image by minwoo via Flickr

We’re on the road right now, so no Market Day today.

I’ve been getting pretty nervous about our plans to go tiny and head back to California. Getting rid of so much stuff is liberating, but it’s also a little… scary.

Okay, so it’s terrifying. That’s why I was so glad to stumble upon this post on Simple Moving from Leo Babauta of ZenFamilyHabits.net. It turns out Leo, his wife Eva, and their six children are up and moving from Guam to San Francisco, with nothing but a backpack each. They also plan to go Car-Free once they get there.

I read this, realized that the worst that could happen could not be very bad at all, and got rid of 80% of the clothes in my closet.

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April 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Literary Inspiration

The Casco, one of a number of boats in which R...
Image by National Library of Scotland via Flickr

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Some days you go just to get there; other days you go just to go.

Take one day each week and move just to move. Walk, bike, run, whatever. Don’t count mileage, don’t have a destination, just go and see what you can see.

If you really want to slow down, go sailing. Traveling in a vehicle where 9 knots (10.36 miles per hour) is breathtakingly fast is a sure way to change your perspective.

(About the sailing vessel Casco, pictured: Robert Louis Stevenson chartered the Casco from San Francisco to tour the Pacific. He wrote in his journal that Casco “plowed her path of snow across the empty deep, far from all track of commerce, far from any hand of help.”)

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April 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Experiment: Integrating Physical Activity Into the Daily Routine

Jogging on a bright November morning
Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I’m so ready for the 2nd 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

The goals are: 1) Integrate physical activity into my daily routine and 2) use the car less.

The reason for using the car less is partially and environmental one and partially a personal health and well being one. The less I use the car, the less I pollute the earth, and that makes me happy. Also, the less I rely on using the car to get me places, the more likely I am to choose physical activity when I have the option which is a wonderful habit to get into. I think I am also more likely to shop and do business locally, which is another wonderful thing.

So, how to translate these goals into a measurable experiment…

I will use the car less by committing to walking or biking to work. I will also not drive to the grocery/drug store, or to the Farmers’ Market (even though it’s a couple of miles across town). “Not driving” also means taking public transportation. Ok, Cool.

I think these methods of using the car less fulfill the other goal of integrating physical activity into my daily routine. Perfect!

I’m leaving my job at Indiana University on 7 May, so that only leaves twelve days to walk or bike to work. We’ll also be traveling to California for nine days, and we’ve committed to not renting a car. We’ll travel by air, train, bus, and airport shuttle. We’ll also do a lot of walking and possibly some biking, so we’d better pack light!

This 30 Days’ Hypothesis: Through limiting use of our car, I will lose weight, build endurance and muscle/strength, and keep my blood pressure down. I hypothesize that I will lose another 10 pounds, drop another dress size (lose 1-2 inches everywhere), and maintain an average blood pressure no higher than 125/85. Strength is harder to measure, since I’m not climbing or lifting weights anymore. To see if I build endurance, I’ll clock my bike rides (mileage and maybe time) and see how much farther I can go at the end of the 30 days compared with the beginning.

And we’re off!

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April 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments