Weight Loss–Machines!

victoryMost of us end up facing machines. They are cheaper than personal trainers, don’t bark at us, do what we ask and are always there waiting for us. But which ones are good, and do we want to buy one? Read on!

Treadmills and elliptical trainers are probably the two most popular exercise machines. But, what they can do for you is pretty different. Treadmills simulate walking. I call it “The Road To Nowhere…Come On Along!” Actually, it ‘s good fun. You can change the incline you are scaling, speed it up and usually plug yourself in to a nice easy march to burn off teh calories. Just bring your heart rate monitor with you because you usually don’t burn as much as you would like to think you do. You can read books and do this, make phone calls and tread, talk to friends and do it BUT that is part of the problem: you can fool yourself into thinking you are doing more than you are. That is why the HRM is so important. Know what you have accomplished.

The elliptical machine, on the other hand, does not fool anyone. This is one tough little ride. The secret is to throw your weight on the leg doing the work. Don’t try to equalize it, one then the other leg is the way to go and burn calories. I find I burn about 400 in about an hour. That is great for me, maybe more for you. The catch is it is much more energetic than the treadmill and you can’t just lope along. You have to push it.

Rowing machines were once the favorite tool for fitness but now they are rare in the average gym set up. since you are sitting down, the calorie burn is a bit less per cycle and so they are not as popular. You have to work a lot with them but you don’t seem to get the calorie burn for it all.

Pretty much the rule of thumb is: if you are sitting on your butt while doing it, you are not burning as many calories. So, the recumbent bike won’t burn as many calories in an hour as a Stairmaster will. You just are not carrying the weight of your own body and increasing your heartrate while doing it.

Stairmasters make you walk up the stairs! They are like an endless escalator. This will burn up a lot of calories HOWEVER make sure your knees are in working order because the Stairmaster is the hardest of all on your knees. Great if yours are sturdy, bad if they are not.

Those are some of the most popular cardio machines. There are plenty of strength machines as well, where you put yourself in the machine and do one exercise to strengthen one muscle. They are fine but know that they don’t burn much in the way of calories and that means you have to be in charge of what you are accomplishing.

Machines are great tools for you to stay in shape, whether you are trying to lose weight by burning calories or get stronger by lifting. However, think twice before you are tempted to BUY a machine. They are expensive and take up a lot of space. Moreover, the fun fades fast. Pretending you are on the Harvard rowing team lasts for about 20 seconds and then it gets hard. Treading is fine watching the TV, but trust me that eventually you will be bored with the treadmill and one day you will skip it.

It’s just the dailiness of it all that is a killer here. Having to get out and go to a gym is a huge motivator! Being with other people and having the excitement of seeing new things never gets old. Moreover, you don’t have to maintain the gym’s equipment. If your machine breaks at home you might have bought the 2 year service plan, you may owe more money to the company even if you have the plan (it may exclude some popular problems), you may have to send it back to the factory or take it to a store to have it fixed. And service contracts are not cheap. So, I would say don’t own a machine.

Oh, that there is always something new coming out. Rowing machines were the ultimate fitness tool years ago. Then there was the cross-country ski track. Treadmills were it back in the day but were supplanted by the elliptical machine. So, you may very well buy a big machine to play on and find out you wanted something which came out 2 weeks later. I would say just use someone else’s and let them fix it when it breaks.

this is one of the last of the Possets fitness blogs. I planned on doing this in January and am going to be doing a Pens, Inks, and Sealing Wax blog in February…it’s the month of the love note, you know, so get with it earlier than you normally do and end up sending a really nice billet-doux! What is that? Stay tuned and find out. In the meantime, take a look at Possets Perfume. We even have fitness blends for you to wear in the gym which are light and totally made to be a positive influence in your workout area.

Weight Loss-Yoga

NikeI would love to tell you that Yoga burns calories like crazy. Alas, I can’t. It doesn’t. Of all the exercise types it gets your heart pumping the least and I can do one hour of it and still only burn 100 calories. HOWEVER, it is wonderful for calming you down and making you more limber, increasing your ability to balance, and giving you an unmatched sense of well-being. So, if you are wanting to get into this ancient form of exercise, please go for it but know that you will have to rely more on diet to lose weight with yoga than if you chose cardio based workouts.

Finding a class in your area is probably going to be easy. Yoga schools have been popping up like kambucha mushrooms, there are even yoga “malls” here in the Midwest where you can choose from several different forms of yoga all given in the same building!

Hot yoga looks like the latest form to catch on. You do this in a room heated to about 103-104 deg F. I have done this and you will be dripping at the end of a 70 min class. I urge you to find a place where they keep the studio spotlessly clean. All that heat, moisture, and bacteria (in a darkened room) can lead to some icky surroundings. You have to be careful of your yoga mat, too. The clothes you normally wear in a setting like this are pretty skimpy, so be prepared for that. I have worn long pants and regular cami-tops but a lot of the practitioners wear what looks like bathing suits.

Hot yoga is very invigorating. You feel your blood pumping when you are through and your heart rate does go up a lot more with hot yoga than with room temperature yoga. I still would not say it is a weight loss form of exercise, but it is marvelous for stretching to the max and helping your joints feel much batter.

Hatha is probably the most regular form of yoga. Series of poses done as a set and repeated, sort of like a massage from the inside out. Some of the poses are pretty simple but you can get complex and exceptionally difficult if you please. The Peacock is a pose that few people can do, it is basically a handstand but with your body parallel to the floor. Lots of the balancing poses are very difficult and exceptionally good for you (like standing on one foot). You can make your sense of balance better by practicing, and you don’t often do that in your day unless you practice yoga.

There are lots and lots of different variants on yoga, and one is sure to be your “cup of tea”. I find that the relaxation it brings is worth every second I devote to it, but there are people who use it as a spiritual treat every day, too. It is great because it is flexible to suit your needs, demands very little equipment, and gives you a wonderful workout on your terms.

Many yoga practices will sell you a set of tickets or classes for you to try out what they offer, at a reduced rate. Look around your neighborhood and see if anything has sprouted up there. I bet you will be surprised by what you find, and delighted by how great it feels.Namaste!

I have practiced a bit of yoga in my life. Actually, I started doing it when I was a child and I had no idea that is what we were doing! Now, coming back to it in adulthood is like finding an old friend with whom you lost touch. Really good. Give it a try.

Weight Loss-Cardio

VigorDiet is your first line of defense against fat. Eating less will make you lose more weight than anything. But the activity that will make you lose the most is cardio. Making your heart beat faster will cause you to burn the most calories and fat. What activity is the champ at that? Cardio.

Cardio, you either love it or hate it. Do it. It increases your stamina and is so very good for you. This is where you are pumping, you are excited, you leap higher, you are running in place. I can burn about 450 calories an hour, and I am not built to burn–I am built to hoard. Cardio is your friend.

Ease into it. If you overdo it, you are going to feel like you cannot breathe fast enough to keep up. That would mean you are in the anaerobic zone and need to slow down. So try the lower speed classes first (even something like Zumba! Gold or Silver Sneakers) this gets you on the road to doing full fledged aerobic exercises. Ask around your gym and find out who the really tough instructors are, the easy ones and try the latter first and then progress to the harder ones.

Zumba is excellent, it’s a dance class set to Latin music and burns huge amounts of calories. It can be sort of dance but its purpose is vigorous. Zumba enthusiasts are fanatic. I love it.

Spinning is where you sit on a stationary bike and pretend to be out in the air, pedaling a real bike. It’s fun! You pretend you are going up hills, sprint to the finish line, and buzz along flat straightaways. You will burn many calories with spinning and it’s great for those who don’t want a competitive class, you are going up against yourself in spinning, and take it at your own pace.

Step is a long running class. This is where you work with a raised board by stepping up and down on it. You also: turn, leap across, lunge across it and more. Your heart rate will climb here and it’s fun. A good instructor will challenge you from head to toe with a step class.

Turbo Kick, is a sort of quasi-marital arts class where you dodge, bob, weave, kick, spin around and do all sorts of things. Your heart can really soar here and don’t attempt it unless you are in shape. It is tough.

There are a variety of Bootcamps where you don’t move much but your heart will pump very fast owing to the sorts of exercises they get you to do, sometimes it is composed of a bit of running to keep that heart rate up but the emphasis is strengthening muscles with a bootcamp usually. I have seen this called: Muscle Madness, Minute Mayham, and a variety of different things.

Cardio is where a good heart rate monitor serves you well. Find your heartbeat and act accordingly. If step is too much, dial it back or take just part of the class until you feel you can take more. No one can go in and take it all right off the bat. As a rule of thumb, your max heart rate should be around 220 minus your age but check with your doctor and do what they say. My heart rate monitor will give me the number of calories I burn, the length of my workout, what “zone” I am in (I don’t believe in “fitness zones” but if it helps you, go for it), and will tell me the time if I put the watch near the transmitter while I am working out.

I also make perfume and have created three of them especially for workouts. Honestly, I don’t like the funky aroma of other people in a sweat. At least I can keep myself fresh smelling. They are light (not overpowering at all), very fresh and I would rather trail that behind me than ‘wet dog’. I bet you know what I mean. Take a look at them: Vim (for contemplative workouts like Yoga), Vigor (for fast paced cardio workouts), and Victory for competitive and strength workouts at Possets Perfume.

A Great Fun Game For Fitness

A friend of mine came up with a great idea. Get a pack of cards and assign an exercise to each of the suits. For example: Spades=push ups, Hearts=clean and presses, Clubs=burpees, Diamonds=pullups. The card numbers are repetitions. All face cards=10 repetitions, Aces=11 repetitions. Shuffle the deck and take a card, then do the exercise and repetitions of the card. You will have gotten a full workout by the time you finish going through the deck! You can change the exercises to suit (pardon me) the routine you want to use. So you could have arm exercises alternating with legs, or abs with upper body, or make sure that each of the 4 suits target a different area of your body. This is also great fun to do with a friend!

A New Sample Size Has Arrived At Possets

I just got the sample size of Bar Sinister in so now you can include a sample of that gorgeous blend in any sample pack you choose.

Found This Lady Today…

Sitting by the side of the road in Cincinnati, residential area. Having a quiet breakfast. Looking pleased with herself. I think she is a redtailed hawk. She didn’t move or get at all upset when I stopped right beside her and took her picture.

Weigh Loss- Free Weights

victoryThis is the ultimate guy thing, well it usually is. Now you will find women in the free weight pit. What’s the attraction? You are totally independent with free weights. They are what the name implies.

With freeweights you set your limits and execute it all with a minimum of fuss or accompaniment. Often you see people using freeweights with a “spotter” or buddy who can help you with form, the amount of weight you are using, and comment on how you did.

Freeweights can be just about anything heavy: hand weights (these can go from 1 lb to 100 lbs or more), kettleballs (iron balls with a handle to make them simpler to lift), bars with weights on the end, medicine balls…anything practically. I have seen large concrete balls that look like boulders used in some gyms. The only thing a freeweight really can’t be is a machine, and freeweights are never done in a class, they are very individual.

If you are going to choose freeweights, it is imperative that you are: a) honest with yourself, b) faithful to performing your exercises, c) aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Being honest with yourself has more to do with realizing your limitations, weaknesses, and talents than it does just about anything else. Don’t pick up too little weight because you won’t gain strength. Don’t pick up too much weight because you will hurt yourself and then the game is over for 6-8 weeks and you will lose your momentum. Be critical of your own form and this is where a spotter can help because as much as you think you know how you look when you do something, sometimes you can get quite a surprise.

Being constant is pretty self explanatory. If you miss more than two sessions ask yourself if you are enjoying your free weights or if you are bored and would rather do something more social. Free weights are not right for everyone, and forcing yourself into doing an exercise you hate is not a good idea.

Being aware of yourself and your surroundings means that you will be less likely to hurt yourself or other people. Putting your equipment away can be a pretty dangerous time because you are tired and just want to get the clean up over with. Make sure you are not going to hit someone else or hurt yourself.

Coming up with a good routine is actually pretty easy nowadays. The internet is full of great routines for you to print out and try, there are a boatload of great freeweight routines on apps for your smartphone (iFitness is free and lets you choose from a great variety of muscle groups and routines). You put in your vital statistics, choose a routine you would like to do and click “go”. You even get movies of what they should look like while you are doing them (the exercises that is). They tell you the reps you need to perform, how many more you need to do during the course of your development, and let you record your progress.

Again, please know you cannot “spot develop” one muscle. If you are working on, say, your biceps you are going to be working out your shoulders, triceps, lats, and back muscles, too. All muscles work in groups, that is what they are meant to do. So if you think you are developing big biceps and your shoulders are not as equally large…try working on exercises which target the shoulder as the main beneficiary of the exercise but know that the other muscles will be going along for the ride. Oh, and sometimes you think one muscle needs developing and you realize that you were looking at it unclenched, and sometimes you are just unlucky to have that one muscle always being smaller than you would like. Normally, it just takes a lot of practice and lifting, opinion changing and then one day you ARE surprised and happily so.

Also, please please please don’t talk about “toning” your muscles. You either develop them or not, there isn’t much middle ground here. Whether you are a man or a woman, it is almost impossible to overdevelop your muscles. To do that you would have to spend an inordinate time at the gym and resort to some chemical supplement which is not recommended (Arnold Schwarzenegger had a heart operation way too early in his life and that leads me to believe that his muscle bound appearance was based on something other than hi reps, not worth it and most people just end up looking odd rather than wonderful).

If anyone offers to help you “spot tone” thank them and decline. There is no such thing.

Last but not least, please wipe down your equipment after you finish. Most gyms have a spray and paper towel set around for this purpose. I carry a set of alcohol wipes that I tear open and wipe down. Washing your hands real well after your exercises is a great idea. Unfortunately, there have been rumors of bad germs out there and the thought of other folks sweat, skin flakes, and oils is pretty unappetizing. There are times I wipe down my equipment with one alcohol wipe before I start.

Weight Loss- Classes-Weightlifting Part I

NikeClasses are wildly popular in most gyms. You get a teacher who guides the group, you have a certain comradship which builds up over the course of time, a routine and a set time to exercise, and the safety of being a face in the crowd. The biggest benefit is that you learn to do something which is good for you. There are lots of different sorts of classes you can take but I am going to put them into two categories for the sake of clarity: the cardio classes where you move a lot and get your heart rate up, and the strength classes. Let’s start with the strength classes first and save cardio for a separate blog later.

If you want to develop your muscles which will help you lose weight and make you look better, strength training classes are for you. Generally, you stand in one spot and lift weights. There are “Boot Camp” classes and spinning classes where you are usually confined to one spot but those are meant to get your heart rate up and pure strength classes are meant to develop muscle.

There are brands of strength classes like “Body Pump” or “Urban Iron” and most of them use a bar with different weights you can chooses to lift to music. The class theory is lots of repetitions with relatively low weights concentrating on different muscle groups as you go along. One class I was in I counted 92 repetitions in about 5 minutes (that was squats for the quads and glutes). You get the picture. In the classes I have been in the groups targeted are: back/hams/glutes, chest, abs, shoulders, triceps, biceps, core, quads, and general warm up.

It isn’t really possible to totally isolate a muscle group, they all work together. So, if you are trying to develop your biceps, it is practically impossible not to involve a lot of the rest of you, too, like your: lats, forearms, shoulders, and chest and abs. You can’t really spot develop but you can develop a large muscle group and certainly strengthen one group as well. Just remember you are all connected.

Start out slow in weighlifting and go up slowly as well. Please don’t start off by loading up the bar with as much weight as it will hold and lifting it come hell or high water. You can end up with a nasty case of tendinitis which will take out out of the class for 6-8 weeks. Not worth it. Start with light weights, you will get plenty of repetitions to keep you working.

Concentrate on form. Again, you don’t want to hurt your back or knees because you were trying to show off. Also, I will be frank, showing off is considered “not in the spirit” of weightlifting. So drama, noise, strutting, well…not.

Weightlifting is probably one of the most contemplative exercises I have ever done because it’s just you showing you what you can do. Even in a class, it’s not a team sport and it’s actually very quiet and takes great concentration. There is a serious side to it, solemn even. That is one of the great attractants of weightlifting, a certain humble edge and seriousness of purpose. There isn’t the posing of yoga, the yelling of zumba, or grim grind of spinning.

Weightlifting classes compete somewhat with freeweights. The latter is totally outside the classroom and at most with a buddy or “spotter”. Classes find you among people but you are your own judge of whether or not you can lift something and put it down successfully.

Heart rates are usually lower for weight lifting classes than for cardio, and you won’t lose as much weight in them either, ironically. I usually burn about 250 calories in a weightlifting class of an hour but I can push myself to 300-350 calories with increasing weights, repetitions (just one or two more at the beginning, participating in the class demo at the beginning, and making sure that you put your weights away and helping putting away others’ gear will tack on about 25 calories and sometimes more).

You will learn how much weight you can lift in 5 minute shifts. There are usually small weights to tack on to bring up the total to the next level or to try out and see if you are ready to go up. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t eternally progress, everyone has a limit and that means concentrate on form and duration.

Women look better after weightlifting. I have not seen anyone muscle bound, and I have been lifting for 5 years now and no one has stopped me on the street to ask how I ended up looking like Charles Atlas BUT I have gotten a lot of compliments. Being stronger is being beautiful. I look great in a strapless black evening dress. Think Lisa Lyons (look her up…very entertaining).

Finally, what to wear? Something simple and comfortable. Good flat bottom sneakers (like running shoes where the sole is thick and flares out for stability), shorts if you are a man (I wear workout pants or capris), a shirt which does not constrict you (bra if you are a woman but it does not have to smash you because you are not going to be leaping around). I bring water to class (I always do that) and a towel because I will sweat. I wear my heart rate monitor to show myself how hard I am working (really helps), and weightlifting gloves.

Gloves are good because the weakest part of your body in weightlifting is your hands. I can pick up a lot more weight than my hands will let me. You have to keep your grip on the bar as well. Gloves have a suede palm which helps you grip your bar and makes you safer and more comfortable. They are fingerless so you can feel the things you need to pick up, put on and off; and they protect your knuckles. I buy mine on amazon.com and there are a lot of different brands. Target sells them, too, as well as sporting goods stores in your neighborhood.

I lost 25 lbs last year and weightlifting was one of the cornerstones of my effort. I highly recommend it as a part of everyone’s routine. Doing it right takes a bit of practice, but it is so worth it. More later.