Friday, January 27, 2017

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet

Starting a new diet plan can be hard, but there are some easy things you can do to get started and to give yourself a bit of inspiration when you want to lose weight - whether you are just getting started or you feel like you've already tried everything.

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet image courtesy of Pixabay

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Jump-Start Your Diet

Starting your fitness quest with a few simple things gives you small successes to feel good about, and those successes make the next steps easier, too.

  1. Start a Fitness Journal: Experts claim that people who keep a fitness journal see more results, and it's such an easy way to get started on your weight loss journey. 
    1. At first, you don't even have to do anything different, just record your dietary intake and activity levels for a few days to create a baseline. 
    2. A fitness journal can be as simple as a notebook where you record what you eat, what you drink, exercises you do, and how you feel. 
    3. It can also be digital, or a fancier journal specifically created for people trying to lose weight. 
  2. Get a Water Bottle: If you don't already have a water bottle you can keep handy all the time, find one that fits your hand and has a sealing top so it won't spill easily. 
    1. Then, do the rubber band trick, to help you track your water consumption without even having to write it down till the end of the day. 
      1. The Rubber Band Trick: You know you need eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, according to most weight loss experts 
        1. - so - say your water bottle hold 16-ounces - that means you need to fill it four times per day 
        2. - so each morning, fill it and put 3 rubber bands around the center 
        3. - each time you refill it - remove a rubber band 
        4. - when you take off the last band and finish the water - you have consumed the day's minimum amount of water (but you can always have more than that.) 
  3. Take a Walk: This is a good way to sneak in a bit of fat-burning cardio. A 10 to 20 minute walk energizes you and gets your blood pumping. Walk at your own pace, or just fast enough to get a little out of breath. 
  4. Choose a Fiber Supplement: This is a great way to reduce your appetite naturally. Look for fiber-rich foods or choose a fiber supplement to take, and increase your water intake to help the fiber swell in your stomach so you don't feel as hungry. 
  5. Add Some Weight to Your Workouts: Grab some dumbbells and add a few presses, curls, and squats to your workout time to get faster results. 
    1. If you don't have access to dumbbells, grab a couple of cans of soup and use them for a bit of resistance. 
      1. This lets you try resistance workouts without buying anything - just in case you don't like it. 
I really don't like to use the word diet when I'm referring to healthy lifestyle changes and fitness plans, but no matter what you call it, following these simple starter tips can help you get started on the path to achieving a healthy weight. Laure J

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight?

When you eat right, it cuts a LOT of the work out of losing weight, and since everyone has to eat, making smart food choices is an easy way to successfully lose weight - but how do you know which food choices will help you reach you reach your goal?

How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight?
How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight? image courtesy of Pixabay
In my last post, I talked about how much fiber you need to consume each day in order to lose weight, and now, I want to add a bit of info on how much protein you need daily for weight loss.

How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day to Lose Weight?

While the actual number of grams of protein you need for weight loss varies by the number of calories you consume daily, a general rule is that 30-percent of your daily calories should come from protein.

That means, for example, if you are on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, you should be consuming about 600 calories of that, or 150 grams, from protein. 

If all the calculations - and counting calories - and checking labels makes your head spin, one simpler way to get where you need to be, according to Shape, is simply doubling your current protein intake. (Just make sure you're reducing your simple carbs, taking in plenty of fiber, and drinking plenty of water.)

What Is Protein?

Protein is a macronutrient, which is kind of a fancy way to say it's a large molecule made up of amino acids, that your body needs to build muscle mass. More than what it is, however, you need to know which foods deliver it to your body.

What Foods Are Protein-Rich?

Protein is usually found in animals and animal by-products, but there are non-animal sources you can turn to if you prefer. Some common protein sources, according to WebMD, are:

  • Meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy
If you struggle to consume enough protein to help you lose weight, try to stick to the lighter and less filling lean protein sources, plus you can add protein powders, drinks, and bars to your daily diet. 

Thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky! Laure J

Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight

When you start researching ways to lose weight, increasing the amount of dietary fiber you consume comes up a lot, and there is a lot of validity to it - here's why...

Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight
Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight image courtesy of Pixabay

Why Increasing Dietary Fiber Can Help You Lose Weight

Dietary fiber helps you feel full faster and that sense of satisfaction lasts for a longer period of time, so by reducing your hunger, it helps you eat less, and you don't feel deprived or like you're missing out on anything. 

What Is Dietary Fiber?

Fiber is a carb, but it's not like the starchy carbs in potato chips or pasta that pack on the pounds quickly. It tends to be crunchy, making it satisfying to chew, and it's more like the firm outer part of fruits and veggies, the parts you might have peeled off and thrown away, like apple peels and potato skins.

How Much Fiber Do You Need in Your Diet Each Day to Lose Weight?

While you should ideally discuss this detail with a nutritionist or your doctor, here's what I found when researching:

  • 25 grams per day for women
  • 38 grams per day for men
These are the figures cited by WebMD for women under 50 and for all men, and it is noted that some experts recommend even larger doses of daily dietary fiber for weight loss. 
  • No recommendations were offered for women over 50, and I wondered if your body weight would also influence how much you should ingest, but I didn't find any better info on it, so for me, I am experimenting - starting with 25 grams daily as a goal and will increase or decrease based on how I feel. 
  • As I write this, I'm eating a lunch I crafted solely in the basis of its fiber content - Peanut Butter and Chia Seed. 
    • I mixed 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter and two tablespoons of chia seed for a lunch that packs 12 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. 
    • It didn't look like much when I started eating, and I thought I needed bread or crackers or some celery, but I am eating it right off the spoon without any of that, and I'm full enough I'm having a hard time finishing it.

What Foods Are High in Fiber?

Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are all rich in fiber. 

  • Berries are one type of fruit that's extra high in fiber.
  • Nuts are also good on fiber content and add protein, too. 
  • Legumes, like soup beans are high in both fiber and protein. 
  • One of my favorite ways to add fiber to foods that are low in it is to mix in chia seeds, like I did with my peanut butter today. 
    • Chia has very little to no flavor, so you can use it to add fiber to anything without messing up the taste. 
    • Plus, you can use it crunchy and whole, grind it up so it's fine, you can soak it so it's soft like tapioca, or you can use it in cooking to thicken soups, sauces, and gravies. 
    • Chia seed is a very flexible fiber source, and it delivers its fiber and other nutritional benefits while letting you fully enjoy your food. 
  • Flax seed - you can use this whole in baking or, like chia seed, you can grind it to sprinkle on or in other foods.

Are There Nutritional Supplements I Can Take Instead of Eating Fiber-Rich Foods?

If you have a hard time eating enough fiber-rich food each day, but want to gain its weight-loss boost and health benefits, you can also add fiber to your diet with supplements.

Fiber supplements are sold under names like Metamucil and Benefiber, or under the more generic name of Psyllium Fiber.

I also found information on dietary fiber reducing the risk of heart attack and some cancers, if you would like the links to that info, just leave a comment below and I'll share more on that.Laure J

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight?

If you're approaching menopause, menopausal, or dealing with weight gain after menopause, you've probably noticed that it gets harder and harder to lose weight as you age. (And, it was already pretty stinking hard!!) Understanding the causes of menopause weight gain can help you make a plan to get control of weight, so read on for some details that can help you out.

Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight?
Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight? image courtesy of Pixabay

Why Does Menopause Make it Harder to Lose Weight?

There are two main physical reasons why menopause makes it harder to lose weight: hormonal changes and changes in insulin resistance. 
Changes in Hormone Levels: As you go through menopause, your hormonal levels drop, as noted by The Beauty Insiders, and it's a double-whammy, too, because both estrogen and testosterone drop.

The drop in  estrogen packs extra weight on the center of your body and your hips, and the drop in testosterone takes away your drive, energy, and your body's ability to create lean muscle mass (which you NEED if you want to lose weight.)
Supplements, either prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal deliver a way to help your body regain a healthy hormonal balance as you go through menopause, and that balance can help your weight loss efforts.
Changes in Insulin Resistance: As your body progresses through menopause, the way it processes food changes, so you're not getting the same nutritional value and the soda, snacks, and sweets you were able to enjoy freely - or at least more freely - now take up residence on your frame.

Why You Need to Change Your Habits to Counteract Menopausal Weight Gain

Because your body begins to process the things you eat differently and because nature is working against you by packing weight on your body at the same time your energy is declining, you need to make some changes if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

  • Restore your hormonal balance. This can be done with supplements or prescription medications, and it's always a good idea to discuss your options with your doctor before trying anything new. (Even natural supplements can interact badly with other medications you are taking, and it's better to be safe.)
  • Cut sugar intake. If you  really have a sweet tooth, substitute processed sugar for fruit as often as possible - you need to be eating those fruits and veggies anyway. 
  • Cut fried and greasy foods. I know they're yummy, but they are heading straight for the body parts where you don't want them. You can still have some, because going cold-turkey feels like punishment, and if it feels like punishment, you're probably going to rebel and get a bunch of large orders, right? But really, reduce how much fried food you get - like - if you normally hit the drive through for a large order of fries a few times a week, make it a small order once or twice a week. 
  • Eat more light protein. WebMD recommends fish, and it makes sense, as long as the fish isn't fried, because fish is a great source of light, low calorie protein. (I throw eggs and peanut butter in this section, too.)
  • Get regular exercise. I bet you knew I was going to say that. Be creative, and look for activity that you enjoy, and look for ways to make the things you already do more active. I wanted to add that, because if it's fun, you're more likely to stick with it. And, if it's convenient, you're more likely to keep doing it. 
I know life is busy, and as human beings we like our comfortable eating habits and existing activity levels because change can be so darn hard....

I know nobody has time to fit anything else into the day, but you still need to do some exercises, so crank up the radio and jiggle around the kitchen to the music when dinner's cooking, or do some mini squats and lunges while you're doing the dishes. Fit in stretches while you're waiting on the last few minutes of the wash cycle to finish. Grab a pair of dumbbells and do some presses while you're waiting on a webpage to load. Anywhere you have a moment extra, you have a chance to increase your fitness level.

For me, cutting back on sugar and fried food is a challenge, even more than getting more active, and I don't like admitting that, but it's just a fact. Which parts of managing your weight are hard for you? Laure J

Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal?

It's been a long-recognized fact that tracking your food intake is a key component of effective weight loss for many... most... overweight people, and now the importance of tracking activity in a journal has also been acknowledged. This type of holistic tracking looks at the big picture, and it creates a tool you can use to help yourself lose more weight (faster) and it's called a fitness journal!

Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal
Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal image courtesy of Pixabay

Will You Lose More Weight if You Keep a Fitness Journal?

A fitness journal gives you a place where you can compile the information from all your fitness efforts, and then add details about the experience, like your mood, what you were feeling when you ate different foods - and after you ate them, how you felt during and after you exercised, and you can even just record if you were having a lousy day, ate a whole chocolate cake, and skipped your workout routine.

The advantage of having place where everything is compiled to show the picture is you can look at it any time, and after a few days or weeks, you'll start to see trends in your behavior. Sure, you might already know you eat too much pizza on movie night with your significant other or your kids, but seeing it in writing helps make it real and gives you a place to start the work of changing that behavior.

Easy Ways to Track Your Diet and Fitness Efforts

Notebook: SparkPeople notes that a fitness journal can be as simple as a spiral notebook where you record your personal information. Because I enjoy the feeling of making handwritten notes, this is my preferred method of journaling.  I do, however, tend to hold back on my feelings when I write in a paper journal because people in my house snoop (you know who you are), and I like my innermost feelings to remain private rather than things to discuss at the dinner table.

Digital Documents: A password encrypted document is a great way to journal if you want to avoid prying eyes - whether you are keeping your emotions private or simply don't want your family to know you ate four Almond Joy candy bars for lunch instead of your salad. The problem I have with the digital journal format is that it is inconvenient for me. I've tried entering things from my phone, but it scrambles and autocorrects them until I can't decipher them.

Blogging: If you're cool with others reading about your efforts and emotions, a blog is a fun way to keep a fitness journal. It's actually what I do and am beginning to expand on, with the exception of leaving out things about being angry at people and stuffing myself with junk food as a result - no good can come of making someone else feel bad - so I record those thoughts in private documents.

Smartphone Apps: Apps make it super easy to document activity and food intake. Some apps, like the S-Health app, record your steps and how fast you walk or run so you don't even have to do it yourself. If your app doesn't record everything you want to track, you can still get the advantage of using it and then transfer info from it into your fitness journal.

Fitness Trackers: If you get a very basic activity tracker, like the one I wrote about here, you upload the info in its compatible app. If you get one that syncs with your smartphone, it will save you work by transferring the data for you. Then you can update your fitness journal, whether you use paper or one of the digital formats, as you want.

A fitness journal is a handy tool you can use in your fitness quest, and if you make full use of the information you collect in it, it can help you lose weight faster, and it can help you keep the weight off for good.

Thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky! I hope you found this post interesting and helpful, and I encourage you to browse around the site. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section under any post on the site.Laure J

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Activity Tracker Precautions You Need to Know About

How do you know if your activity tracker is working properly?

Activity Tracker Precautions You Need to Know About

This post is based on my Series 8 activity tracker, which is admittedly a budget-priced tracker with few features - but it's good to remember to test the effectiveness of your fitness watch from time to time no matter what kind of tracker you have.

Activity Tracker Precautions
Activity Tracker Precautions

What makes it record your activity? 

Using the Series 8 as an example, some trackers are basically a pedometer that calculate distance and calories in addition to your steps. But - it's not actually your steps it's tracking, it's the motion of the arm you have it strapped on, so if you don't swing your arms as you walk - guess what - no steps get recorded.

How do you check a fitness band to see if it is recording?

This is actually unbelievably easy, once you know you need to do it - you just look at it while you're walking. If you realize you don't swing your arms enough while walking to make it register, either focus on swinging them more - it burns more calories anyway, try attaching the tracker to your ankle because it swings with each step, consider a tracker that combines GPS with the step counter, or download a fitness app to your phone to get activity data from your phone.

How long did you walk?

If your step counter is not recording properly, you can also make a note of how much time you spent walking, and make a note of that in your fitness journal or add it to a fitness app in your phone.

Thanks for reading, and I hope if you're relying on an activity tracker for your fitness data, that you're having better luck with it than I am. Laure J

Monday, January 16, 2017

Walking With a Step Counter

A step counter, or pedometer, can be a useful tool when adjusting to a more active lifestyle and also when setting goals.

Walking With a Step Counter Pedometer
Walking With a Step Counter Pedometer image courtesy of Pixabay

Walking With a Step Counter

I knew I live a sedentary lifestyle due to being a writer, but I didn't realize just HOW sedentary it was until I strapped a fitness tracker on my wrist - and that is the inspiration for this post. (I am guessing I didn't notice because I never really thought about it, because, well, I was busy working.)

I read that 10,000 steps per day is the ideal goal for heart health and physical fitness, so of course I set my personal goal as 10,000 steps per day - seriously expecting to breeze right through it. Wrong! I barely broke 3,000 steps my first full day tracking - and I made sure to do extra walking around just because I knew the tracker was recording my steps.

Don't Get Defeated or Overwhelmed

I admit, I feel a little bit lousy about falling so short of my goal, and a little overwhelmed at how hard it is, too. But, in keeping with the 'you can do it' theme of this blog series, I'm not going to let a little setback ruin my efforts, and if you're trying to get more fit along with me, I hope you will stick with it, too, even when it doesn't go the way you expect.

Should You Adjust Your Goals?

Even when you don't reach your goal, measuring and recording information on what you did achieve lets you adjust your goals, and that can be a great idea. If your initial goals are too hard, temporarily lowering them and replacing them with goals that are hard but achievable lets you taste success. It also gives you a chance to strengthen your muscles and make time for more activity in your day. It also shows you where you can work harder to reach your goals.

If you're struggling to reach your goals, don't use it as a reason to give up. Let it motivate you to try harder, and be sure to let me know how it's going for you.Laure J

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Getting Back to a Fitness Routine After 3 Slacker Days

The past few days have been exactly the type of thing that usually throws me off track with a new fitness routine, so I wanted to share some tips on getting back to a fitness routine after 3 slacker days.

Getting Back to a Fitness Routine After 3 Slacker Days

Everyone has those days sometimes - where you're super busy and you don't fit in a proper workout, but those days don't have to derail your fitness goals.

I actually managed about five to ten minutes each of the three days that I slacked off, but my goals were to increase my workouts at this point, so it felt like a failure when I had reached the end of the day and didn't have time for a full workout.

So, even though it was bedtime, I grabbed my dumbbells and did five minutes of upper body work the first night, then six minutes of leg work and light cardio the second. The third day, I just got in a ten minute walk (which was great because I was testing out my Series 8 Action Tracker to review here on the site.) And, that brings me to today's workout.

Today, I walked for ten minutes at a fast pace, and I added ten minutes of upper body dumbbell work, with three pound weights. Then I stretched and cooled off until the soreness in my shoulders eased off, but I didn't time the cool-down period today.

So, I apologize for the brevity of this post, but I wanted to share in the hope it can inspire you if you feel like you haven't met your own goals, and that it reminds you you haven't failed as long as you don't give up. Never, ever give up, just keep trying - it's worth it.Laure J

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review of the Series 8 Action Tracker

I've wanted a fitness tracker for a while, and I've been researching the features I want and comparing prices. The cost kind of held me back, but today I found a Series 8 Active Tracker at Five Below and decided to test it out.

Series 8 Action Tracker Fitness Band
Series 8 Action Tracker

I've never had a fitness watch before and I wasn't sure I would keep using it, partly because I am allergic to a lot of watch bands and partly because it seems like something that might be a nuisance after a few days, so I wasn't comfortable spending a lot. So, even though this particular activity tracker didn't have all the features I want, I decided it would be a good model to wear for a while to find out if I like wearing one, plus I get to review it here on Fat and Cranky for you.

The Series 8 Action Tracker

The Series 8 Action Tracker is a Five Below exclusive fitness tracker, and it's kind of bare-bones model, but for five dollars, it does a lot and seems to work exactly as described. My first impression of it is that I really like it.

Features of the Series-8 Action Tracker

When you pull this fitness band out of the box, you set time, your weight, and your stride length, ideally before you put it on.

  • Tracks four key fitness details: It tracks your steps, the number of calories burned, the distance you have walked, and it shows you the time. 
  • Smartphone app available: You can download the Series-8 Action Tracker App from the App store or Google Play, set and track your goals, and enter the data provided by the watch in your phone - this lets you share or compete with your friends via Facebook. (I opted out of that part because it struck me as a little odd, but if competition and sharing inspires you, it's an available feature you can use.)
  • Long Band: I have a fairly large wrist for a woman, and the adjustable band allows for a custom fit, and I could still go more than an inch wider if needed, or much smaller.
  • Easy to See: The LCD display is actually big enough to see without squinting.
  • Latex-free: The strap is sweat-free and latex-free, so it won't make anyone with a latex allergy break out or get sick. 

What the Series-8 Action Tracker Does Not Have

For five dollars, this activity tracker is great and it delivers the basic information you need, but there are features it doesn't have and I want to cover them, too.

  • Does not sync with smartphone: While there is an app that you can use in conjunction with the Series-8 Action Tracker, you have to enter the information yourself. It's easy to do, and not a big deal, but it is a detail you should be aware of before buying.
  • No heart rate monitor: If you work out at a high-intensity level, or if you're new to working out, a heart rate monitor can help you ensure you are working out in the safe - but effective - zone of intensity - but if you check out the Borg perceived intensity scale you can use that, or you can learn to calculate your own heart rate by using the integrated clock.
  • No sleep tracker: A sleep tracker can help you understand how well you sleep, and how long, and it adds to the total fitness information you may want, but its absence in the Series 8 is no big deal. Given the low cost, it isn't going to have every feature that a pricier model delivers.
  • Band is not interchangeable: The tracker is built into the band, and is not interchangeable, so you can't match a band to each outfit. However, at the price, you can buy several for less than many interchangeable bands cost. Updated to add that I found the tracker pops out very easily, but I suspect it is so you can change the battery as I haven't found replacement bands for it anywhere. 
  • No Bluetooth or messaging: Some pricier fitness bands let you know when you have an email, text message, or phone call coming in, and those features are not built into this Series-8 model. 
All-in-all, the Series-8 Action Tracker works well and delivers everything it promises, and it's a great basic fitness tracker.

Series-8 Action Tracker Removed From Band
Series-8 Action Tracker Removed From Band
Thanks for reading about my experience with this fitness band, I hope you find the info useful; and I'll be back with more info on it after I've used it for a few days to let you know how it holds up on an ongoing basis. Have you  ever tried one of these Series-8 trackers, or any kind, if you have and would like to share, I would be thrilled to hear about your experiences.Laure J

Easy Ways to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet

If you've spent any time at all reading about superfoods that help you lose weight while bolstering your health in numerous other ways, you probably already know a bit about chia seeds. If you haven't, well, it's time you get the info on this super-food!

Easy Ways to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet
Easy Ways to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet image courtesy of Pixabay

Chia seeds deliver omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium to your diet, and they have practically no flavor, (many people say they have no flavor, but I can taste them in certain things, and while it's pleasant enough as a flavor, to me, it doesn't go with anything) but they are great because you can add them to almost anything. 

Easy Ways to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet

Chia Pudding: Soak them overnight in milk, sweeten with honey, and top with fruit for a creamy dessert. You can also do this with chocolate milk, but they do seem to require a longer soaking time. Note, however, that you can grind them before soaking and this reduces the soaking time.

Sprinkle Chia Seeds on Salads: Chia seeds are a great addition to a chef's salad, just sprinkle them, either whole or ground, on top of the salad dressing. It's eye-catching and the seeds add a pleasing texture.

Chia Seeds Turn Comfort Food Into Health Food: Sprinkle a generous layer of chia on top of mac and cheese, biscuits and gravy, chicken and noodles, or pretty much any carb-rich comfort food to add fiber and protein. You can also add the seeds during the preparation if you want them to be less obvious.

Chia Seeds on Your Fast Food: That's right, you can sprinkle chia seeds on your favorite fast food burgers to make them a little healthier to eat - so you don't have to worry about your favorite grease-burger ruining your diet. One easy way to handle this is to keep a (sealed) salt-shaker filled with ground chia seeds in your purse or in the car so you have it with you whenever you want to eat out.

I've tried all of these, and liked them all. My favorites were the salad with whole chia seed sprinkled on top and the biscuits and gravy with ground up chia seeds sprinkled on top. My least favorite, while still pleasant enough, was the chia chocolate milk pudding. It had a 'green' taste to me, but everyone else who tried it said it was good, so, if you try it, I would love to hear what you think. Laure J

Friday, January 13, 2017

Discover the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Discover the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds Discover the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
By Roxanne Rodrigues
What are the benefits of Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds may just look like your everyday seed, but don't let appearances deceive you. Packed full of nutritional goodness, various chia seed benefits have seen this small seed become the latest sought-after "Superfood". Chia foods are by no means a new thing, in fact this nutritious seed goes as far back as the Aztec warriors who would eat the seeds as part of their battle preparations. Chia health benefits are documented as far back as the Indians, who supposedly survived many a forced march, which were usually 24-hours long, on just one small teaspoon of the seeds. The Chia seed, no doubt, have the Indians to thank for being dubbed as "running food", although there are many other chia seed benefits too.
Energy Boost
Whether you want to improve your stamina in the gym or simply have some extra get-up-and-go for your work day, this amazing superfood has a perfect blend of nutrients to give you it. Packed full of carbohydrates, the seeds can absorb up to ten times their own weight in liquid. Due to this super-absorbency, these seeds have little to no effect on a person's blood sugar. This is what prevents the carbohydrates, which chia are packed full of, from being broken down quickly by the body. This not only prevents a person experiencing the jitters of a sugar crash, it also helps to sustain a good energy level to help get you through the day.
Slimming Down
One of the most popular chia food benefits is the fact they can help a person to lose weight. Again this has much to do with the seeds absorbency and nutrients. Carbohydrates in the seeds are absorbed slowly, this is due to the seed expanding in the stomach, and so does the soluble fibre that lies around the seeds' outer layer. This not only helps to suppress a person's appetite, it also helps stabilize the blood sugar for longer. A 2009 clinical trial focusing on chia food benefits found that the middle dose of seeds is enough to reduce a person's appetite anywhere up to 47-percent. Individuals given the larger recommended dose of chia seeds experienced at least a 33-percent reduction in their glucose level. Interestingly, for the study the chia products were used in white refined bread, which is often too linked to weight gain and blood sugar imbalance.
Bone Strength
It can be hard to figure out how much calcium you are getting and, most importantly, if you are getting enough. If you are not a big lover of milk, chia seed products could well be your answer as they actually contain more calcium than milk does. Add to this the fact the seeds enhance the absorption of the calcium and it is fair to say this is one of the major chia health benefits. The calcium in chia seeds is much easier to digest than that in milk, making the seeds an ideal alternative to those people suffering from lactose intolerance.
Mental Health and Brain Power
Omega 3 has long been touted as natural "brain food". However, what is less publicized is the positive affects Omega 3 and 6 has on individuals suffering from mental health conditions such as, depression. Chia food products support a person's nervous system, which affects a person's brain function. Improved brain function leads to a better transmission of the nerves, which leads to an improvement of a person's mood. However, chia seed benefits do not stop at improving brain power and mood. Essential fatty acid found in the seeds has been linked with improving and maintaining, liver function, cholesterol, joints, stabilizing blood sugar levels and cognitive function.
The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry completed studies that linked chia seeds to building insulin intolerance, as well as helping to prevent heart and liver diseases. Chia superfoods make a great supplement, especially if your lifestyle means you are not always getting the recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals. It is said that chia seeds contain more flax seed and Omega 3 oil than salmon, so it makes a great substitute for those who do not like eating oily fish.
Muscle Building
If you're vegan or gluten intolerant, Chia can also be a great source of protein. According to nutritionists, these amazing superfoods contain more protein than other grain alternatives. If you are looking to build muscle and need to increase your daily intake of protein, chia superfoods are the best choice when you also consider the other benefits associated with them.
Chia food benefits also cross over into other medical areas. Because the seeds are gluten-free, people with conditions such as Chrohns disease and gluten intolerance and celiac disease will be able to take them with no adverse side-effects. Various studies have also proven that people with various nut allergies had no serious side effects from taking the seeds.
These amazing seeds are such little powerhouses, that there is way too much to cover in this one short article! I have been writing many more detailed articles about chia, and also making some cool little videos showing you how to prepare the seeds, and the best ways to use them in your diet!
Roxanne Rodrigues is a young, free spirited individual who has amassed a wealth of information about nutrition and raw foods. To learn more about the Chia Seeds Benefits and also how to use them to their best effect, you can see further articles and videos by Roxanne at
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why Walking Is a Great Lazy-Day Exercise

After a hard workout yesterday, I wasn't feeling it to do another today, but I know myself well enough to know I would most likely quit completely if I start skipping days, so I decided on a light, lazy-day workout - a walk.

Why Walking Is a Great Lazy-Day Exercise image courtesy of Pixabay

Why Walking Is a Great Lazy-Day Exercise

There are so many great reasons to take a short walk for exercise, starting with its cardio benefits.

Walking is also convenient because you don't need a lot of extra gear to enjoy it.

You can walk indoors or out, so the weather doesn't effect your ability to enjoy it.

Walking is an instant mood-lifter.

It's easy to fit in fitness bursts of walking because you don't have to spend as long warming up and cooling down, though you certainly can throw in some stretching if you have time and enjoy it.

You can burn as much as 100 calories in a ten minute walk, and you can slip in as many ten minute walks as you want per day.

I actually did my Day 10, short walk with a fairly high intensity level, though I started with every intention of slacking, because once I started moving it was enjoyable and kind of fun. So, How are your fitness goals going so far? Laure J

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How to Find Weight Loss Motivation That Sticks

Sometimes, starting a new  weight loss and fitness regimen is the easy part - because you're fired up and ready to taste success instead of junk food, but a few days in - that excitement and sense of success can fizzle.

How to Find Weight Loss Motivation That Sticks
How to Find Weight Loss Motivation That Sticks image courtesy of Pixabay

That's when it gets harder to find motivation, and THAT is when you need it most!

How to Find Weight Loss Motivation That Sticks

To succeed at anything, weight loss included, you need to know WHY you are doing it.

  • Psychology Today recommends having a long list of reasons you want to lose weight, and then pulling it out to reread whenever your motivation lags.
  • While a long list is great, I would personally alter that to suggest that you don't need a long list if you have one or two crystal clear reasons. 
  • Maybe you want to avoid a heart attack. 
  • Maybe you want to look good for a class reunion or some other event. 
  • Only you can choose those goals that inspire you, and any reason you have for improving your health and fitness is a good one.
  • For me, I want to be healthier and I want to be able to do active things without getting out of breath. 

In addition to knowing why you want to achieve your goals, remember to reward yourself frequently.

Rewarding yourself for your successes is a suggestion from WebMD, and if you acknowledge the small successes, it's super easy to find things to celebrate.

  • Instead of focusing on your total weight loss goal, if it's a lot, focus on the first five pounds, and when you get there, celebrate that success. 
  • Or, focus on completing your workout, water drinking quota, or dietary goals each meal, and let yourself feel good about every single success, because the more little successes you achieve and celebrate, the closer you are to your ultimate goal.
Understanding why you are exercising and changing your eating habits, plus giving yourself a lot to feel good about, makes it easier to stay motivated. 

Everyone has blah days that make it hard to workout, but - FYI - powering through feels twice as good on those days, so don't give up, and find your inner motivation. You can do this!Laure J

30-Minute Fast Walking, Dumbbells, and Stretching Workout

I decided to up the intensity for my workout today, and while I was doing it, I noticed two things, one, it was the first time I broke a hard sweat since I started this, and two, it wasn't a painful or unpleasant experience.

fast walking dumbbells and stretching workout
30-Minute Fast Walking, Dumbbells, and Stretching Workout image courtesy of Pixabay

30-Minute Fast Walking, Dumbbells, and Stretching Workout

I think the reason it wasn't hard to transition into this more intense workout is totally because I spent the first week or so adjusting to working out with shorter, less intense fitness bursts.

  • Warm up then fast walking for cardio: So, I started with about three minutes of stretching to warm up, then went right to fast-paced walking to get my heart rate up. I held that pace for 20-minutes before switching to the dumbbell portion of my workout. 
  • Dumbbell workout: I did two sets of ten reps on my upper body dumbbell (presses, bicep curls, hammer curls, tricep extensions, shoulder shrugs, and side lateral raises) workout, along with squats and toe raises. 
  • Cool down then meditation: I finished up with a few more stretches, and I threw in five minutes of meditation in the lotus yoga pose, which by the way, gives a great outer thigh and hip stretch, but I didn't count that in my workout time. 
  • Drinking water: I still struggled with this goal today, only made it to four glasses, so tomorrow I need to add some extra focus on my goal of drinking water.
How about you? What did you do for your health today? Are you ready to ramp up your workouts and start seeing some results, too? 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or anything you want to share.Laure J

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hydration and Exercise Fitness Goals

My Hydration and Exercise Fitness Goals for Day 8

Hydration and Exercise Fitness Goals
Hydration and Exercise Fitness Goals image courtesy of Pixabay

A little encouragement for anyone who didn't reach their fitness goals today...

I didn't quite reach my Day 8 goal of drinking eight glasses of water and extending the length of my exercise time, but I did drink more water and do more exercise than normal.

  • I made it to six 8-ounce glasses of water when I was trying to do eight.
  • I spent about fifteen minutes dancing around the kitchen while doing housework - but I had planned to do a full half hour and include cardio/dumbbell interval training. 
  • Fifteen minutes dancing was long enough and intense enough to get my heart rate up and make me feel like I had worked my muscles pretty hard, so I'm counting that as a low intensity cardio workout. 

It would be really easy to let myself feel defeated over not managing to do something as basic as drinking water, but it's not a habit I'm in, and I made progress, so I feel good about it, and I'll try harder tomorrow. (Same deal with the exercise - a missed goal or two isn't the end, or doesn't have to be, it's an opportunity to do better the next day and every day going forward.)

How about you?

Did you achieve your fitness goals today?

If you did - good job!
If you didn't achieve your fitness goals today, that's okay - don't get discouraged - just embrace whatever you did do - even if it was just getting mentally psyched - and try harder tomorrow - because if you keep at it, you'll get there! 
Laure J

Ways to Stay Motivated When You Don't See Results

It's perfectly normal to want to see fast results when you start a new exercise plan, and it can wreck your motivation if nothing happens, or worse yet, you gain weight. There are, however, reasons to stick with it, and ways you can stay motivated when you don't see results as quickly as you want.

Ways to Stay Motivated When You Don't See Results
Ways to Stay Motivated When You Don't See Results image courtesy of Pixabay

Stay Motivated When You Don't See Results

Even if you aren't seeing changes on the scale, if you are sticking with your exercise regimen, there are still changes going on inside your body. Exercising builds muscle, increases your strength, and releases endorphins that make you feel more positive.

Use more than one way to measure the effectiveness of your workouts. The scale might not be the place where results show up first, and weight loss can take longer than expected, especially as your body ages.

Understand that your body changes and responds differently to stimulus than it did when you were younger. For example: when I was younger, I could drop 6 pounds overnight by eating 2 Snickers bars before bed. If I did that now, the only results I would see would be heartburn around 3 am.

Know yourself and the things that inspire you, and use them. If fitting into a certain outfit inspires you, put up pictures of it where you can see them frequently. If the health dangers that come with being overweight frighten you, put little notes around that remind you of the potential for heart attacks, diabetes, and other weight-related diseases. (Personally, I like to keep it positive, but everyone is different, so find your inspiration, and use it to your advantage.)

Know that getting healthier and fitter is a journey you can take and succeed at, regardless of your age or starting point, and the key to succeeding isn't in seeing immediate results, the key is (keys are) starting, adapting your regimen to fit your life, sticking with it, and increasing your efforts regularly enough to keep it challenging.

Yesterday completed my seventh day of daily workouts and sharing info about the experience here on Fat and Cranky. This morning I got up and rushed to the scale expecting a loss of at least a pound, only to be greeted with an extra pound that wasn't here when I started. THAT was the inspiration for this message, and a reminder about using more than one metric to measure results. 
If my weight were the only thing I was using to measure success, this fitness project would be done right now. But using how I FEEL as a measuring guide as well as weight, and the fact that my jeans are touch looser, lets me know I am making progress.  
Also, I know it's going to take more than just adding a short workout session each day to change my weight very much, I just chose light exercise as a place to begin. It supposedly takes 21 days to make something a habit, so my first focus is just creating the habit of exercising and finding ways to be more active. 
This week I plan to increase the workouts a bit, and begin tracking my water consumption, so I start getting the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses per day - and then next week I'll start looking at dietary changes.  (I'll be posting about that some more later today.)
So, how about you? Did you make any positive changes last week? If not, today is a great time to do something for yourself, and it can be anything you are comfortable doing, or you can follow my workout routines, they're posted in order on the Fitness page here on Fat and Cranky so you can try them in the order I did or choose the ones you like any time. 
Laure J

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Save Time With a Multi-Tasking Housework Exercise Routine

If you're having a hard time fitting exercise into your daily routine, consider combining your workout with your housework to accomplish two things at once, and you don't need ANY fitness gear to do it, either!

House Cleaning Exercise Routine
House Cleaning Exercise Routine image courtesy of Pixabay

Save Time With a Multi-Tasking Housework Exercise Routine

Your housework will be more fun, and just like that, you gained half an hour, or longer, in your day because you don't have to find extra time to exercise - your workout is done when the housework is finished!

  • Music: Just like this WebMD article suggests, it's great to turn on the radio or your favorite playlist in your MP3 player or smartphone so the music can help get you moving, inspire you, and entertain you as you work. 
  • Focus on Your Core Muscles: Pull your stomach in, tighten your glutes, and dip deeper into your thigh muscles as you clean to burn more calories and strengthen your muscles. 
  • Be Smart: If you're used to cleaning, but not exercising at the same time, remember to use extra caution when moving faster than normal or carrying heavier laundry baskets than normal - the extra activity and weight are good as far as exercise, but if you get hurt, it's going to block your fitness and health goals. 
  • Go Old-Fashioned: Whenever possible, if time allows of course, tackle cleaning tasks the way your great-grandmother would have - use the broom instead of the sweeper, wash dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher, and take advantage of the chance to do squats for your leg muscles every time you have to put away something in a low drawer or cupboard. 
This type of multi-tasking is really great because it gives you two things to be proud of without taking any extra time - just think how great your house will look and what a great thing you're doing for your body when you tackle a housework exercise routine! (And, if you keep it up, your body is going to look and feel as good as your tidy, fresh house!)

This post was inspired by my day today. I was swamped with work and had clients waiting on articles, plus my house was a wreck from a busy weekend. I couldn't think how to fit in a workout longer than four or five minutes, which I would have done to write about here, but I wanted to share something a bit different. Then, I remembered years ago, when I went to Weight Watchers, one of the ladies asking if housework counted as exercise and the leader saying it did. So, I made up my own house cleaning exercise routine and I have to say, cleaning the house can be a great workout and a total win-win! How about you? Have you ever noticed what a great workout housework can give you?
Laure J

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ten Minute Seated Dumbbell Workout for Upper Body Strength

I'm mixing it up a lot this week on my exercise routines, because I want to share a lot of ideas and having new things to talk about here on Fat and Cranky keeps me motivated; today I went with a ten minute seated dumbbell workout to help build upper body strength.

Ten Minute Seated Dumbbell Workout for Upper Body Strength image courtesy of Pixabay

Ten Minute Seated Dumbbell Workout for Upper Body Strength

I warmed up as I normally would, with a few stretches and moving around a little bit to warm up my muscles, then I took a seat on a padded bench with no backrest.

I slowly went through a series of presses, stretching, bicep curls, stretching, and tricep extensions followed by stretching. I went through my simple set of dumbbell exercises a couple times until my ten minutes were up.

The Good and Surprising Things About a Seated Dumbbell Workout

What I liked about this routine was that it's a great alternative workout you can do if you have a hurt leg or any kind of lower-body limited mobility, or even just if you have sore legs from a hard lower body workout the day before.

What surprised me about this short workout was the intensity of it - by taking the lower part out of the workout, I found I focused more on my arms and chest muscles and got a more intense workout in a very short time - my muscles were actually burning and quivering in that short time span. 

Since I'm not doing pictures of my own yet to actually show you these exercises, I wanted to share a link to a web page that shows some of the exercises I'm talking about - Sport Fitness Advisor.

Thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky, I'm so glad you took the time to drop by and I hope you'll feel free to leave a comment to share your thoughts. Laure J

Walking and Yoga for Weight Loss

I decided to keep the intensity low for my Day 5 workout, and I simply took a short walk followed by a five minute session of yoga stretches.

Walking and Yoga for Weight Loss
Walking and Yoga for Weight Loss image courtesy of Pixabay

Why Walking Helps With Weight Loss

Walking is a great low-impact, aerobic exercise for menopausal women and anyone of either gender or age, and getting that cardio time in helps your body burn fat.

  • If you can't get outside for your walk, you can use a treadmill or even a walking-based exercise video. 
  • I used to have a great exercise video from Kathy Smith called Walk and Roll - if you're looking for a workout video to follow and enjoy a dance-based walking exercise routine, it's a fun one. 

Yoga for Weight Loss

The stretches I did after my walk were more about easing muscle tension and avoiding exercise injuries than losing weight, but yoga can be an effective tool in the battle against obesity and even belly fat. This is because, much like isometrics, yoga builds muscle, plus it stretches muscles to help you achieve a long, lean look.

I'll be expanding more on both of these amazing, low-impact exercises over the next few weeks, so be sure to pop back in for more details, and for more support in your own quest for better fitness and health.
I'm sorry my day 5 post is a little short, and a little late getting online, and I hope you'll feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.Laure J

Friday, January 6, 2017

Combine Exercise, Diet and Positivity to Lose Weight

I realize I'm starting off this year's Fat and Cranky blog series with a focus on exercise and effective workout routines for beginners, but I want to spend a few moments to share why the exercises I am covering for the first week or so are - while great - probably not enough to help you achieve weight loss goals (especially not lasting ones) without combining diet and positivity changes as well, though exercising is part of any good health and fitness plan.

Exercise, Diet and Positivity for Weight Loss

For me, personally, I find if I try to change everything at once, it's too much, and I drop everything new and go back to old habits within a few days.

Lose Weight Fast With Exercise, Diet, and Positivity
Lose Weight Fast With Exercise, Diet, and Positivity image courtesy of Pixabay
I find making lasting changes is more of a process than an instant solution, if that makes sense. So, I'm spending a week or so getting used to the idea of increasing my activity level (and doing it) and creating the habit of being more active before I start throwing dietary changes on top of it.

I know myself, and I know things to avoid that will derail my fitness plan if I let them, and that's really the heart and soul of the message I'm trying to share with you...
Know yourself and find ways to build success based on who you are and what works for you. 
It's easier to succeed if you you use the things you like as you build new, healthier habits. If you know you like fresh peaches, for example, include them in your diet. If you know you like riding your bike, try to incorporate that into your fitness routine. If you enjoy something, it's easier to make it into a habit.

And then, limit or omit the things you don't enjoy. If you know you dislike.. I don't know... lima beans, for example... don't go on a lima bean diet because even if you lose the weight you want to get rid of, it isn't sustainable. If you know you don't enjoy dancing, don't choose dancing for your cardio exercises or every workout will be unpleasant. Make changes you can live with, and it's easier to get where you want to be.

Exercise + Diet + Positivity = Weight Reduction + Better Health 

Achieving weight loss and maintaining your weight after you lose it, is kind of like an algebraic equation that stays balanced. If you subtract or add to one side of the equation, the other side balances out, too, or at least that's what is supposed to happen.

The Role of Exercise in Weight Reduction and Better Health

Exercise boosts your metabolism and builds muscle tissue, so even when you're resting, your body is still burning more calories than it would if you don't exercise, but most of the time exercise alone won't get you to your desired body weight.

The Role of Diet in Weight Reduction and Better Health

The things you eat and drink are the things that feed your body, and your food choices can either help you reach a healthy weight or these choices can literally pack the pounds on your body in the form of bigger fat cells.
The problem with using diet alone for weight loss is, your body will start to 'eat' muscle tissue before it gives up its fat cells, so using diet alone to lose weight can leave you with less of what you need to burn fat round the clock - and as soon as you go back to eating the way you did before you dieted - you gain the weight back - plus some more.

The Role of Positivity in Weight Reduction and Better Health

Positivity can be the biggest influencer when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. As human beings, our emotions get tied to our activity levels and the foods we eat.

  • The last thing you might want to do if you've had a lousy day is workout and eat a salad - though you might feel better if you do; you may want to lay on the sofa and nosh on a gallon of ice cream while you cry (I've tried it - it doesn't help and you'll probably need to barf about a fourth of the way through the gallon - just sayin'...)- and  there may be times when that's what you choose to do, but even a brief breakdown doesn't have to ruin your new fitness plan as long as you don't give up.

Focus on Health and Fitness Instead of Quick Weight Loss

If you want an easy way to lose weight fast, it can be done, but fast weight loss isn't usually good for your health.
Your doctor or a personal trainer is a good source to turn to for the max amount of weight you can safely lose each week. 
A focus on achieving a healthy body weight and weight management through diet, exercise, and positivity changes that you can maintain long-term are (in most cases) the best ways to achieve lasting weight loss success - because everything in life works together - if you let one area slide - everything else is most likely going to slide right along with it.

Thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky!Laure J

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Avoid the Risk of Burning Out the First Week of Your Fitness Plan

While simply starting is the first challenge of changing unhealthy lifestyle habits, getting through the first week of a new fitness plan can be tough, too.

Avoid Burnout the First Week of a New Fitness Plan image courtesy of Pixabay

There are, however, things you can do to make that first week go more smoothly and to keep yourself inspired when things feel a little too hard.

Avoid the Risk of Burning Out the First Week of Your Fitness Plan

Build success into your fitness plan. When you experience success, it feels amazing, and you want more, and success doesn't have to be huge, it can be something as small as checking off eight boxes to show you drank eight glasses of water.

  • It can be drawing a smiley face on your calendar after your workout, even if it's just a five minute workout - because you did it! 
  • We get so used to doing everything for others, doing even a small thing for ourselves can be counted as  victory, and you know what? It should be!

Know yourself. If, for example, you know sore muscles will make you quit, avoid the intense workouts that give you sore muscles the first week.

  • Instead, do something else that gives you results you can feel good about, and plan to start intense workouts later. 
  • I'm starting this out by incorporating different exercises and sharing information about them, and the science behind why I have chosen these particular exercises, how they feel when I do them, and why it's okay -and even safer - if I don't jump right into high intensity workouts. 
  • Every day that I get through and write about it in the hope it can help someone else - that's my victory.
  • I'll add information on nutrition and harder exercises later, but this is where I am today, and that's okay, just like it's okay for you.

Be flexible. When you are starting a new workout routine or fitness plan of any kind, you don't know what you are going to feel from day to day or moment to moment, so you need to give yourself permission to be flexible.

  • Don't make your new plan so rigid that if you can't perfectly do 10 push-ups, it's over and you consider it a failure. 
  • Adapt and make a plan to GET to where you can do those ten push-ups. 
  • If you're focusing on dietary changes first, don't make your diet so strict that a few extra bites of something yummy or comforting means you've failed.
  • Again... build success into your new fitness plan by allowing for your humanity, and by being flexible, so a small blunder or need to make a change is not a failure, it's just... like your GPS might say... recalculating - it doesn't change your destination, it just changes the route you take to get there a bit. 

Why the First Week of a New Fitness Plan Is So Critical

The first week of a new fitness routine is so critical because emotions get tied up in the first week's success or failure, and if it feels like a failure, that failure can turn into another ten or fifty pounds and a whole new batch of health problems.

So, if you haven't started yet, what are you going to do for yourself first? Feel free to leave a comment if you need support or just want to share your own ideas on getting started.Laure J

Should You Clean Your Bathroom Scale?

Have you ever stopped to think about just how unsanitary your bathroom scale might be? For me, my scale was something tucked under the hamper, and I would slide it out with my toe when I got up the nerve to see what news it was going to give me - so I never thought a lot about cleaning it.

How to Clean Your Bathroom Scale
How to Clean Your Bathroom Scale image courtesy of Pixabay

How to Clean a Bathroom Scale

Aside from the fact that you step on a scale with the soles of your feet or even shoes you just wore outside, every time you flush the toilet, polluted airborne water vapor escapes into the room and settles on pretty much everything. That includes your scale - but it's super easy to clean.

What You'll Need:

  • Damp cleaning rag
  • All-purpose cleaning spray
  • Or - antibacterial wipes


  1. Spray a thin layer of cleaner on your scale, but don't drench it.
  2. Let the spray rest on the surface a couple minutes.
  3. Wipe off the spray with the damp cloth. 
  4. Repeat the steps as needed to get your bathroom scale clean and looking sparkly-fresh.
When your scale is clean, it's easier to see your weight on the dial and you can feel cleaner picking it up with your hands instead of doing what I usually did and scooting it with your toe. 

Low Intensity Interval Training: Is That a Thing?

Yesterday, I wrote about HIIT, or high intensity interval training, and I planned to try it today, but I woke up achy and decided my overweight body isn't ready for that today, so, while I don't think it's an official fitness term, I put together my own 22-minute low intensity interval training session. 

Low Intensity Interval Training image courtesy of Pixabay

My 22-Minute Low Intensity Interval Training Session

Day 4 of my path to fitness.

I didn't start this workout with a ton of enthusiasm. Like I said, I was achy, and in the past the fourth day of a fitness routine has often been when I gave up. 

So, the fact that I'm sitting here writing about my workout is a good sign, and if you're ready to give up, maybe you could lessen your intensity for today, like I did, and when you get through it, even if you just decide to workout at low intensity for five minutes, you'll have a taste of success and you can feel great about not giving up. 

Here is the summary of this workout, and why it will be effective based on what I know about exercise physiology: 
  • Warm up: To warm up, I danced and took a few deep breaths for 1 minute. I would have done more, but my heart wasn't in it and I was just going to do a light workout.
  • Low intensity intervals: For this part, I alternated a 3-pound dumbbell workout with yoga stretching for about 5 minutes, switched the yoga with dancing intervals and started tightening my core muscles more during the dumbbell portion, then around 15 minutes my muscles started to shake, so I switched to isometric moves and walking in place until I hit 20 minutes. 
  • Cool down: I was so glad to get to the cool down part of this workout, and I stretched my arms and waist, and then I spent extra time stretching my legs and inner thighs, because they were the most sore. 
Properly warming up and cooling down can reduce the muscle soreness you would otherwise feel later, and if you stretch gently so you don't strain your muscles, stretching is also an extremely pleasant part of a workout session. 

If you're joining me in starting a workout plan, be my workout buddy and motivate me or compete with me by telling me about your workout today, whether it was 5-minutes or much longer.Laure J

Can You Trust Your Bathroom Scale?

So, here you are, trying to lose some weight so you can feel and look better, and if you're like me, you're jumping on that scale once, twice, or several times a day - but you (and I) shouldn't do that.

Bathroom Scale
Bathroom scale image courtesy of Pixabay

Why You Should Not Compulsively Check Your Weight on a Bathroom Scale

  1. Accuracy: Most bathroom scales aren't really all that accurate. 
    1. The scale at your doctors's office or gym will typically be more accurate than a bathroom scale, but as long as you use the same scale each time you weigh-in, you can sometimes get an idea of whether you are gaining or losing - you should just try to limit your weigh-ins to once or twice a week. 
  2. Variability: Your weight can change several times per day.
    1. Every time you eat, drink, go to the bathroom, cut your hair, or change your clothes, your weight is going to change, so frequent check-ins only let you measure how much weight you took in when you ate or drank, or how much weight you eliminated when you went to the loo. 
  3. Discouragement: When you start working out, you are building muscle.
    1. Muscle weighs more than fat, so compulsively checking your weight, especially when you first start working out, can leave you feeling discouraged. 

What You Can Check Other Than Your Weight

I know, I just admitted I do exactly this, compulsively checking my weight, but there are other, more effective metrics you can use to measure the success of a new health and fitness lifestyle plan.

  1. How you feel: This is the one thing I consider the most important, because the others are more for record-keeping while the way you FEEL and how much you are ABLE to do compared to your starting point impacts every second of your day. 
    1. When I got on my scale this morning, it told me I had gained 4.2 pounds - talk about disheartening for someone well into the first week of a new fitness routine - but I don't consider that permission to give up, because I knew it would happen - I just don't LIKE it.
  2. Measurements: In addition to tracking your weight, get some measurements, because a lot of the time you will see changes in your physical size long before your scale shows you results.
    1. The great thing about tracking your measurements is, if you measure several different areas, like your waist, hips, chest, neck, biceps, forearms, upper thighs, lower thighs, and calves, there are SO many places you might notice progress - like if your waistline doesn't change but your hips get smaller - or vice versa - you know you're heading the right direction.
  3. How your clothes fit: When you notice you have a little extra breathing room in the waistband of your jeans or your favorite shirt buttons without gaping open, you know you are headed in the right direction, and these changes can become noticeable even before you see it in your measurements or weight, because as your fat becomes less dense, even if it still LOOKS the same, you start to feel it in the way your clothes fit.
    1. I've noticed this in the waistband of my jeans already, just four days into this, so even though my scale gave me a kick in the ego this morning, I see success in another metric that is actually even more important, and that's what inspired this message. 
Don't give up if you don't see the results you want right off, and give yourself more than one way to measure the success of your fitness plan, that way, even if you compulsively check your scale (which you shouldn't but - who am I to judge - as a compulsive scale checker, I get why you want to) and it gives you bad news, you KNOW you are still on the path to where you want to end up physically. 

A bathroom scale can provide you with valuable information to help you know if you are on the right track, but checking your weight once a week or even just once a month is likely to be a more positive experience because it lets you see your results in a more long-term manner.

I picked up my bathroom scale at Walmart (and Walmart is also my affiliate sponsor for this post, so if you want to shop for scales or any fitness gear you need, feel free to click through the Walmart icon below to visit the company website.) My scale is just a basic digital Health Meter model. I like that it shows weight to the ounce, and it does seem to be more accurate than my old bathroom scale ever was.

Feel free to share your thoughts on how often to check a bathroom scale in the comments section, and thanks for visiting Fat and Cranky.Laure J

What on Earth Is HIIT Training?

I've been reading a lot about HIIT training and how it's the ultimate thing for blasting belly fat in my fitness magazines, but I haven't seen one specific definition for what it is, so I'm closing my mags and starting an online search so I can A) try it and B) share the info here on Fat and Cranky.

What Is HIIT Training image courtesy of Pixabay

What on Earth Is HIIT Training?

Okay, the letters HIIT stand for High-Intensity Interval Training, and it's also called HIIE for High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise, and SIT for Sprint Interval Training.

It is basically what I did in my Effective 20-Minute Beginner Workout, though at a slightly higher intensity level.

A HIIT session alternates cardio and anaerobic activity, like a dumbbell workout or isometrics, and, this part is great, a session usually lasts from a mere four minutes up to 30-minutes, which is also pretty short and doable, especially if you crank out your favorite music.

If you really get out of breath, you can even completely stop the activity during the anaerobic portions of a HIIT workout, or do some yoga stretches, which is a great way to avoid muscle soreness.

Should I try a HIIT workout?

As a perimenopausal woman who carries a lot of body fat, I find this fascinating, and I love that it is so close to what I have already started doing, and to the way I was trained to teach interval training back when I took the classes to become a certified personal trainer.

Because of my weight, though, I have my doubts about taking my workout intensity higher until I've talked to my doctor, though, so I'm going to keep my HIIT sessions customized to my fitness level.

HIIT burns off excess body weight without causing muscle loss and it ramps up your metabolism.

I've found it improves my mood.

It can be done in a small space - I am starting this fitness program i a very small space, behind closed doors because I want privacy as exercise.

How Often Should You Do HIIT Sessions?

Since this particular workout mode is new to me, even though what I am doing is similar, I'm going to refer to the suggestion of another site that shares info on HIIT workouts.

Starting out, Greatist recommends only doing HIIT sessions once per week for newbies, and then adding low-intensity cardio the other days for heart health. Advanced exercisers can enjoy HIIT sessions up to seven times per week according to the site.

Thanks for reading this article about HIIT workouts. If you have experience with them, please feel free to share in the comments section below.Laure J