Archive for January, 2013

I talked about some things you could do to exercise in this blog post. I thought today I would take a moment and talk about the differences between Cardio and Weightlifting. They are both extremely important for your fitness levels, and regardless of whatever your fitness goal is, you should try to incorporate both into your exercise regime.

Cardio Exercise

Some good examples of machines that specialize in cardio exercise.

Some good examples of machines that specialize in cardio exercise.

Cardio exercise is often thought of as what people do when their primary focus is losing weight. To a certain extent, that is true. Cardio work is the best way to burn calories, but that isn’t the only thing it is used for. Remember, cardio is short for cardiovascular. What cardio does is get your heart pumping at a higher velocity than it normally would. This is what causes you to burn calories. In the process, it strengthens your heart. You can be the model of perfect health, but you still need to incorporate cardio exercise into your daily workout routine to keep your heart strong.

But what if you only want to gain muscle, will cardio work make you lose weight? It might, but that goes back to eating the proper amount of calories based on whatever you are trying to accomplish. If you are happy with your weight and simply trying to convert fat into muscle, then make sure you are eating enough calories to balance out the calories that you burn.

Cardio is a great way to lose weight, but it is so much more than a weight loss tool. EVERYONE needs cardiovascular exercise to maintain a level of good health. If you haven’t started, I would suggest you start incorporating into your workouts as soon as possible.


Building muscle is the best way to burn fat.

Building muscle is the best way to burn fat.

Many people think weightlifting is only for people who want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And just like those who think cardio is only for people who want to lose weight, this is also not correct. The most efficient part of your body that burns fat is muscle. You can lose weight without lifting any weights, but it will take longer, and I don’t believe you will be real happy with how your body looks after you hit your goal weight. If that happens, you might be tempted to lose even more which could put you at an unhealthy weight because you don’t weigh enough.

How much weight should you lift? That is where it gets a little bit more complicated. You need to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish first. Everyone should push themselves when lifting so that it is a struggle to get the last two or three reps in before you stop. If you want to stay thin and lean, go for a weight that you can get around 12 reps in per set. If you are trying to put on a lot of muscle, up it to a point where you can only get in about  8 reps per set. The difference in weight is substantial. You’ll find that it would differ by 10 to 15 pounds.

If you are trying to lose weight and have heard that you don’t burn too many calories by weightlifting, there is some truth to that. You can still burn calories with weightlifting. If you want to see the calories fly off, make sure you take as little time as possible between movements. If you can keep it to less than a minute between movements, you are going to burn calories and a lot of them.

How I Do It

I hate cardio and love weight lifting. Even though I hate it, I still do cardio though. One of the nice things about the current program I am on, Insanity, it kind of combines the two. You burn lots of calories while working some key muscle groups at the same time. Weightlifting I enjoy because those results are sometimes more visible, at least on my arms it’s more visible. I also like the added strength I get from doing it.

Whatever your goals are, make sure you are doing both. There is a lot of different ways you can go about getting both your weightlifting and cardio work done, just make sure that you make it a priority to do each of them. The results will surprise you if you haven’t done that up until now. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen, and may all of your fitness dreams come true!



Fitness Update: 1/30/13

Posted: January 31, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Fitness Updates
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Exercise: Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit

Activity Points Earned: 9

Calories Burned: 717

Total Calories Burned for the week: 2,278

Weight Watchers Daily Points Used: 43 of 43

Weekly Points Used:  7(34 left for the week)

Activity Points Used: 0

Activity Points Remaining: 28

Successes: My biggest success was adjusting for giving in to my Grandmother’s Peanut M&M bowl again. I’ll explain how I did poorly in the failures, but I was able to compensate. After a really bad encounter with that bowl, I reduced what I had for dinner by about half. That helped keep my eating somewhat under control, and I only used 7 weekly points which keeps me in line for what I can spend for the week.

Failures: I told you yesterday about my son being sick and needing to take him to the doctor. Well, by the time I got to my grandparents to get him after work, it was too late to get him to his pediatrician. Since it was too late to go to his regular doctor, I had to take him to a minor med place close to my grandparents house. It didn’t open until 5:00 and I got to my grandparents’ house around 4:00. That gave me about 45 minutes to kill at their house. During that time, I made numerous trips to the M&M bowl. I normally only get a small handful, about an 1/8 of a cup, and it only costs me 3 points. Yesterday, well, it was a lot more than that.

Outlook for today: Some friends of ours are celebrating their daughter’s birthday tonight at Red Robin, and they invited us to tag along. That means figuring out what I am going to eat BEFORE we get to the restaurant. Weight Watchers has information for Red Robin already in their database, and if I eat everything that I have it planned out, I will only use 3 weekly points for the day. That’s pretty good.

My workout was Insanity Upper Body Weight Training. I continue to get better and better at performing the moves correctly. My calories burned were 791, first time it dropped below 800, and I continue to see the drop since I lost some weight. The same will happen to you. Probably one more week lifting the current amount of weight that I am, then I will need to kick it up a few pounds.

My goal today is to stick strictly to what I have planned out.  If I deviate any from it, I could throw off what I want to accomplish. You can fudge a little, but typically the time I fudge is on the weekend, so I don’t want to fudge too much today. I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


What Exercise is Right for You?

Posted: January 30, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
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Everyone approaches exercise from a completely different perspective. Choosing the right workout or exercise program will go a long way towards getting you to your goals. You will also find that your goals may change as you exercise which might mean that the type of exercise you do will change. Here are some things to keep in mind, depending on what you want to accomplish.

Trimming Down

Treadmills are great ways to get your cardio done.

Treadmills are great ways to get your cardio done.

If you are looking to lose weight without looking like a professional body builder, cardio will be your best friend. There are lots of cardio machines that will help get you going with cardio exercise. The best example is a treadmill, but there are others: stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and stair climbers are just a few. You don’t have to buy big fancy equipment though. You can walk, run, or jog without purchasing one thing (with maybe the exception of some good running shoes if you don’t have some already).

Some people who are only trying to lose weight are afraid to do any strength training because they are afraid they will get too big or won’t lose weight. It isn’t something I would suggest however. Doing some basic strength training will help your body burn the fat that you hate so much. Yes, it is true that the numbers on the scale might fall more slowly, but your body will get smaller. If you compared two men, both of whom were 6’0″ tall and weighed 185 pounds, but one did a small amount of strength training and the other didn’t, you would notice that the one who did would look smaller than the other. You will probably like the way you look more as well. It also doesn’t require a huge investment to do simple strength training. A small set of resistance bands will allow you to get some basic toning in.

Getting Big

Pumping some iron can build a lot of muscle.

Pumping some iron can build a lot of muscle.

You may be the opposite, you want to build as much muscle as you possibly can. If that’s the case, you need to start doing some weight lifting. Weight lifting is a great way to put some added muscle on your body. You can do some weight lifting with resistance bands, but you are probably going to have to invest in some dumbbell bars that you can adjust the weight to and some weight plates. You can go all out and get a Bowflex or some other type of weight bench, but it isn’t completely necessary. My advice to these people is the same as those wanting to trim down, don’t skip out on Cardio. The more weight you add to your body, whether or not it’s fat or muscle, will put added pressure on your heart. To keep it pumping properly, it needs to exercise and nothing does that better than Cardio work.

Exercise Programs

If you use an exercise program, make sure you choose one from the right intensity level.

If you use an exercise program, make sure you choose one from the right intensity level.

There are lots of exercise programs out there. Many of them are specialized and many of them vary in intensity levels. If you plan to start one, do some research before you make your purchase and plop sown all that money because they can be expensive. If you are just getting started, you might not want to try the more advanced programs out there. You can always work your way up to an Insanity or P90X.

The benefit to a program is that it gives you structure and guidance. You don’t have to wonder what types of exercise you need to that day because your program will already have it laid out for you. It takes a lot of the guess-work out of it.

What I Do

Currently, I am in week 4 of the Insanity program. I am not sure if he created it or not, but Shaun T is the guy who instructs on the videos. It’s tough, but like all exercise programs, the more you do it, the better it gets. It’s a lot of Plyometric stuff, which means a lot of jumping, lower body, core work, and simply using gravity as a way to strengthen your body. It was originally designed to train Olympic athletes, so you know going into it that it is going to be intense. I didn’t just start with Insanity though. I worked my way up to be able to do a program like that, and even though I am in week 4, it still wears me completely out.

Plyometric Exercises push your body to the limit.

Plyometric Exercises push your body to the limit.

Before Insanity, I spent a year and a half doing P90X. It combines both strength training and cardio work. It is also hard, and I thought I would never find anything harder than it until I met Insanity. I definitely got stronger from week to week as went through the program. I could barely lift anything close to what Tony Horton, the Instructor for it, was lifting, but by the time I finished my last round I was a lot closer to matching him. I never got as high on the weights as he was, but it wasn’t too far off.

If doing one of these programs, you will need to check your ego at the door. When you first start, you probably won’t be able to keep up with the instructor or the people demoing the movements. That can be deflating, especially if you think you are in really good shape before you get started. You will improve and it will get better. That wasn’t the first thing I did however.

The first thing I did was hop on an exercise bike six days a week. Three days a week, I did some basic strength training with a Bowflex we had bought. I did this for about four years before I switched over to P90X. It got me started to where I wanted to be. My fitness levels got better each and every week and I saw the pounds drop. Once I reached my goal weight, my goals for exercise changed. I wanted to get stronger and build muscle, so I made the switch to P90X.

You will have lots of ups and downs as you go through your battle with weight and exercise. You have to start somewhere. With perseverance and dedication, you can accomplish your fitness goals. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


Fitness Update: 1/29/13

Posted: January 30, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Fitness Updates
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Exercise: Insanity Cardio Power and Resistance

Activity Points Earned: 8

Calories Burned: 677

Total Calories Burned for the week: 1561

Weight Watchers Daily Points Used: 43 of 43

Weekly Points Used:  6 (41 left for the week)

Activity Points Used: 0

Activity Points Remaining: 19

Successes: Ate really well yesterday. Cardio Power was a little tougher yesterday than it had been. I am going to contribute that to being more capable of doing the program with better form.

Failures: Only one really. I pick my kids up from my grandparents’ house after I leave work. She has a bowl of peanut M&M’s out at all times. I try to just grab a few to get me to dinner. I got a few handfuls yesterday. Not good!

Outlook for today: My son appears to have an ear infection. I will take him to the doctor after work, so I have to eat something relatively quick and simple for supper. Thankfully, we have some pretty good healthy options at the house.

My workout was Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit. I did this one much better than I ever have. Normally by the time I get to the level two drills, I don’t have the strength or energy to get up off the floor from the floor sprint and back down to the push up. I did today. I wasn’t very fast, mind you, but I was able to actually do the full movement. Big step forward!

My goal is to not repeat yesterday’s mistake. Less M&M’s. A small handful is plenty! I hope you have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


Jumping Over Your Exercise Hurdles

Posted: January 29, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Encouragement
What will be your exercise hurdle?

What will be your exercise hurdle?

You have gotten off to a good start. You started exercising. You are asking yourself are you eating because you are hungry or because you just want to eat. You have made a conscious effort to get your health in order. The one thing that you will discover is that there are times when you come up with excuses about why you shouldn’t exercise. The more you stumble over these hurdles, the more likely that you will abandon your workouts altogether. The best way to overcome these hurdles and obstacles is to confront them before you get started.


Sleep is my biggest hurdle every single day. If I am going to exercise, I know it has to be as soon as I get up. That is a real challenge some mornings. My dilemma is how early I have to get up. I am a teacher and bus driver.on time to do the few things in my classroom that I need to before I start my bus route, I need to be at school no later than 5:45. That means I need to leave my house around 5:00 in the morning. So to get my exercise in, I wake up at 2:40 in the morning. That’s awfully early to get your body going, but it is by far the best time for me to exercise. Lots of people are the same way. If they are going to do it, it’s got to be in the morning. There is a reason lots of gyms open really early in the morning. People need to get their workout in before they go to work. It’s always tempting to hit that snooze button and get a few extra minutes of sleep in, but try to remind yourself everyday about how you are going to feel after it gets finished.


Injuries can make it really difficult to exercise. The other problem with injuries is they can affect you for years after you suffered the injury initially. If you are currently recovering from an injury, you may not be

Injuries can often lead people to not being able to exercise

Injuries can often lead people to not being able to exercise

able to exercise at all, and that can make it difficult to get started back. It can also become an excuse to avoid it after you have healed. The thing to remember is most forms of exercise can be modified to accommodate for whatever injury you have suffered. The key is to go easy at first and see how the injury responds to whatever exercise you are doing at the time. If it does okay for a time period, increase the intensity little by little.

The most important thing to do when doing any exercise that might aggravate an existing injury is to talk to your doctor. They will know best how to work around it, or what exercises could be done in place of any that are bothering you because of your injury.


Time is another factor that often makes it difficult for people to exercise. Many of us lead packed lives that make it difficult to find time to exercise. Whether it’s our kids, work, or any other number of things, there are lots of things that

The only way to find time to exercise is to make the time.

The only way to find time to exercise is to make the time.

require so much of our time. The only real way to get around this is to just set the time out from the beginning of the day. It has to be planned and nothing can interfere with it. This is the only real way to make sure you get past your hurdle of time.


It takes sacrifices, there is no question about that if you want to exercise. Remind yourself what it does for you, how you feel, and the general satisfaction that exercise brings into your life and it will make it much easier to overcome those hurdles.


Fitness Update: 1/28/13

Posted: January 29, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Fitness Updates
Tags: , , , ,

Exercise: Insanity Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs

Activity Points Earned: 11

Calories Burned: 884

Total Calories Burned for the week: 884

Weight Watchers Daily Points Used: 43 of 43

Weekly Points Used:  2 (47 left for the week)

Activity Points Used: 0

Activity Points Remaining: 11

Successes: Lots of good stuff yesterday. I ate well. I powered through Pure Cardio despite my disdain for that workout. I didn’t cave in to any cravings.

Failures: For the most part none. I did have an extra helping of the dessert we had for dinner last night, but it was a really good recipe that my wife found on Weight Watchers. I needed to use up all my points, and even though it took me a little over, it was a good way to get up to 43.

Outlook for today: I don’t see too many places where I might slip up, so I just need to make sure if there are any surprises that I don’t lose control of my eating plan.

My workout was Insanity Cardio Power and Resistance. This continues to be my favorite besides the Upper Body Workout. I always feel like my entire body got a workout after completing this one. One important note, I burned 677 calories doing my workout this morning. It’s the first time I dropped below 700 on this workout since I found my chest strap heart monitor. This is probably due to the fact that my heart rate monitor was calculating my calories burned with 4 pounds less than last week. You will start to burn less calories the smaller you get, and that’s okay because you don’t need to burn as many.

My goal is to keep making good decisions. That’s my goal most days, but I need to remind myself daily to do so. Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all of your fitness dreams come true!


Most Americans are going to spend this Sunday evening watching the Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of either the 49ers or the Ravens, the Super Bowl is a part of Americana that many participate in. It’s also a time when a lot of Americans overindulge on junk food, and healthy eating habits fly out the window for at least one night. To make it even harder, many people watch the game at a friend’s house and a party is made of the event. So if you are trying to lose weight or are afraid that you might put on some extra pounds, what should you do? Here are some things that might help you

  • Find out what food will be there ahead of time. If you are hosting, you are in a position of power because you will provide the majority of the food. You can provide some healthy options if you are doing so, but I wouldn’t do just healthy stuff. If you do, some of your invited guests aren’t in the same frame of mind as you and may go elsewhere. If you are going somewhere else, ask the host if they could let you know what everyone is bringing. If you know what food will be there, you can plan ahead about what and how much you want to eat.
  • Use a small plate. It’s one of the most effective methods to controlling your eating. The smaller the plate, the less you can put on it. You will probably make fewer trips to the food table and your brain will think it is eating more.
  • Pay attention to the game. If you don’t really care about the game, or if you are only attending the party because you want to socialize with your friends, then you may be more tempted to graze the food table more than you like. If you are watching the  game and paying attention, you will be less inclined to eat just because the food is there. In a related note, pray that it is a good close game. Noting quite like boredom to make people eat for no real reason.
  • Listen to your body. If you start to feel like you aren’t hungry anymore, then stop eating. Don’t keep your plate around you. Throw it away and don’t go back again. It’s not always that easy, but it can be done!
  • Watch how mush you drink carefully. If you don’t drink alcohol, this won’t be a problem. If you do, sporting events seem to be a great excuse for  a lot of people to do way too much of it. There is very little redeeming qualities when it comes to your health when consuming alcohol, but it doesn’t mean you have to be completely free of it to stay healthy. One or two drinks won’t hurt too much. If you really want to avoid the temptation, volunteer to be the designated driver. That will ensure that you don’t drink too much to begin with.

A little bit of planning and forethought can meant that you have a fun time without consuming too much food at a Super Bowl party. You will feel a lot better the next day if you do! Have a great day ladies and gentlemen and may all your fitness dreams come true!