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Section: Miss Fit



Miss Fit Says: "Exercise Makes You Smarter"

March 13, 2007

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As if you needed a better reason than helping you live a longer, less-painful, more enjoyable life, here’s another reason to get off your butt and exercise: it makes you smarter. And don’t take MissFit’s word for it. Scientists have proven it.

Yahoo News reported on this on March 12. As we age, our memory declines, but “exercise boosts brainpower by building new brain cells in a brain region linked with memory and memory loss.” They first did the experiments on mice, but thankfully backed it up with MRIs of people’s brains before and after a 3-month regimen of aerobic exercise. While they haven’t figured out the perfect workout to build your brain & body simultaneously (I’m sure someone will jump on this idea and have a book out about it by year’s end), they plan to do more experiments. Read the article for yourself.

Looking for more brain benefits? According to the American Psychological Association, working out helps you cope better with stress: “Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress, according to research into the effect of exercise on neurochemicals involved in the body’s stress response.” If you’ve been a regular exerciser and then have to miss too many workouts in a row, I’m sure you’ve felt the affects on your mood as well as in your abs.

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Miss Fit Says: "It's March. Things are Starting to Change. Which is Both Good and Bad"

March 1, 2007

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The bad news: A huge portion of folks who recently started working out to achieve their New Year’s resolution will start falling off the wagon.
The good news: The gym won’t be so crowded for those of us who stick it out!

The bad news: Rain is going to wash all that good snow off the mountains for those of us who enjoy skiing and just playing in it.
The good news: Those who are getting bored just working out in the gym (I’m with you on this one!) can get back outside.

The bad news: The workout you’ve been doing since Jan.1 is no longer doing you good.
The good news: If you change things up, you’re less apt to get bored, and your muscles will be more challenged. See my Feb. 9th blog for more suggestions on how to make your workout less routine.

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Miss Fit Says: "Exercise Should be Anything BUT Routine."

February 9, 2007

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I know it’s only February, but if you’re getting bored with your routine (I hate that word!) chances are your muscles (your heart and every other muscle in your body) aren’t being challenged either. Our bodies adapt to the stresses we put them under. So rather quickly, what was once difficult to accomplish becomes much easier for the body — though getting your butt to the gym enough times per week still may be as difficult ;-).

While there are no hard and fast rules in fitness, I’ve come up with four that you should heed if you want to see continued progress.

RULE #1: Do NOT do the same routine every time you work out.

If you get on the elliptical machine each time you’re in the gym, you’re likely not challenging yourself and not seeing the results you got when you first started exercising. What to do? Mix things up—use different cardio machines each time you do cardio. Mix in interval training (periods of increased effort with periods of recovery) so you’re not just getting on the treadmill and going at one steady speed. And alternate between machines and free weights when you’re doing your strength training.

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Miss Fit Asks, "Do You Need Fitness Motivation? Consider the Alternatives..."

January 19, 2007

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For the past two weeks we’ve discussed how to positively motivate yourself to work out and keep on doing it past the usual New Year’s Resolution honeymoon period. But if making a date to do something special and making appointments to exercise is just not enough motivation for you, consider the alternative. If you don’t get moving and keep moving, it will get harder and harder to move at all.

This is not an overstatement. To see proof, just look at your aging friends and neighbors. If they’re not active, they probably complain of joint and back pain, which only causes them to move less. When the reality is, the more you move, the less pain you’re likely to have. An article published in the New York Times on January 11, 2007, titled “FITNESS; When It’s O.K. To Run Hurt” quotes renowned sports medicine doctors who go so far as to recommend exercising with an injury as a way to recover faster.

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Miss Fit Says, "Don't Make Fitness Resolutions, Part 2"

January 11, 2007

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In my last column, I had this crazy idea that resolutions weren’t what we need to make if we really wish to improve our health and fitness. For more motivation, I previously suggested (see: ‘Miss Fit Says, “Don’t Make Resolutions”’) making a date instead—a goal that will help you achieve your resolutions.

Now, I’m taking my plea a step further. To ask you to make multiple dates. By this I mean appointments to exercise. Put fitness on your schedule so it doesn’t fall by the wayside when you get busy or distracted. Because you know it’ll happen. I see it by mid-February at the gym. We’ve lost the newbies, those who made resolutions, and we’re back to the diehards who’ve got fitness on their calendars.

You can do it alone, by simply writing it in—in pen—and not backing out of your appointment (I guess you can’t use pen on your pda, but whatever). Better yet, make a date with a friend to meet at the gym. You’ll keep each other honest. Try to leave most of the gabbing ‘til after the workout when you go out for coffee (with skim milk, please, no frappucinos or lattes).

Creating a walking group with friends is another great way to keep fitness on your schedule. You get to chat while you’re doing it and keep in touch with your friends. Try to pick those who will motivate you to push and keep your cardio up rather than the strollers who’ll hold you back. And if you’re the most fitness-motivated in your group, inviting others to join you on your walks is a great way to help them get healthier. After all, we want to have our friends around for the rest of our lives.

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Miss Fit Says, "Don't Make Resolutions"

January 2, 2007

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It’s that time of the year again. When people make grand resolutions. When the gyms start to fill up with newbies we will barely see after February. The question remains, why make a resolution if chances are you won’t keep it? Isn’t there a way to keep the new folks working out and eating healthier as the months of 2007 go by?

My suggestion: don’t make a resolution, make a date instead. By a date, I mean plan something for several months away that gives you extra motivation to keep up your healthier lifestyle. That date could be to run a race, go out dressed up for a special night on the town, vacation on the ski slopes or the beach, or if you’ve been completely sedentary, to participate in a charity walk and raise money to boot.

If you’re looking for something to get you working out in the first place, make a date to go out or go away. Some of the most motivated people I meet at the gym have a special event coming up for which they want to look fabulous. The trick is to make another date as soon as that one goes by, in order to keep up your motivation (no need to plan another wedding or bar mitzvah, it can be a special night out in NYC).

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10 Ways Cycling Makes You Feel Like a Kid Again

October 13, 2006

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What motivates people to exercise and stay fit? It helps if it's not solely for appearance and health reasons.

For example, I realized I loved bike riding not because it was a great calorie burner, but because I had so much fun doing it (I was conquering my fears--see last week's blog post called "What Are You Afraid Of?") and I felt like a kid again.

So during my climbs up and down the hills, I came up with some reasons why. What follows are my top 10 ways cycling makes me feel like a kid again. Please let me know your additions to the list--either by commenting on this blog or emailing me at eve@cyclicaltraining.com.

Now stop acting your age! And get outside.

10. I'd rather be outside having fun than inside doing my homework (or in this case housework!).
9. I like to go downhill as fast as I can.
8. Sometimes I feel like screaming my head off with glee (while still keeping both hands on the bike - I'm not that crazy).
7. If my mother could see what I'm doing, she'd have a fit.
6. I look like I'm wearing a diaper (it's the padded shorts).
5. Sometimes my tush gets chafed.
4. To soothe it, I put white cream on it (in this case, it's called Chamois Butter, not Balmex).
3. My nose is always running.
2. I wipe it with my hand.
1. I like to play in the road. (But I always look both ways before I cross the street.)

Miss Fit, also known as Eve Hartman, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer who gladly makes house calls (even for those who are afraid to be seen in a gym) and loves to get people outside road cycling (to help you overcome your fear of falling). For more information, please call 914-588-0591 or visit www.cyclicaltraining.com.

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What Are You Afraid Of?

September 29, 2006

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No, Miss Fit is not a personal trainer passing herself off as a therapist. But the more I work helping people get healthy and in shape, the more I see how their fears can hold them back. Some are afraid of falling off a bike. Others are afraid of being seen in the gym being out of shape (even when I assure them our local gyms are NOT the Vertical Club).

I, too, was once afraid of falling of a bike. Afraid of getting hit in the face with a ball (I wore glasses). Afraid of not being good enough. My fears kept me thinking I wasn’t athletic for the first 25 years of my life. Something that’s hard for those who know me now to imagine. (I admit it, I was a band nerd.)

Instead of the norm of growing older and getting more fearful, to be healthier and live longer we should confront our fears and overcome them. Like my new friend Isabel did upon turning 50. Rather than comfort herself with a few drinks and reminiscences, to celebrate her milestone Isabel gave herself a challenge—to complete a Triathlon, in spite of the fact that she could neither ride a bike nor swim. Read her story (after the jump) and I hope you’ll get inspired to challenge yourself. If you have your own story, please share it with us.

Miss Fit, also known as Eve Hartman, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer who gladly makes house calls (even for those who are afraid to be seen in a gym) and loves to get people outside road cycling (to help you overcome your fear of falling). For more information, please call 914-588-0591 or visit www.cyclicaltraining.com.

Isabel’s Story

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Feel Younger Instantly!

September 7, 2006

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No, I’m not selling supplements or snake oil. But as I rode my bike up and down the county’s hills this summer, I truly felt like a kid again. While I started cycling four years ago to get in shape, now I do it as much as I can because it’s so much fun. Remember as kids how we used to run around and play purely for the joy of it? Then we grew up, put on weight and gained fears that often keep us from trying new things.

I suggest by rediscovering your playful spirit, you’ll actually feel younger (remember, age is just a number). What should you play at? Whatever floats your boat, as they say. But try to keep it on the healthy side (this is Miss Fit talking).

So while it’s still warm, go for a paddle up the Croton River. Or just swim back and forth from Alligator Rock to Silver Lake beach.

Dig out that old skateboard or rollerblades and go over to Croton Point or the bike trail for a roll (please wear pads, even the pros do). You don’t even need any equipment to go for a trail run or hike at nearby Blue Mountain Reservation.

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Suck in That Gut!

August 9, 2006

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Thought sucking in your gut may seem a pointless way to improve fitness? The action of pulling in can actually strengthen your abs… Believe it or not, it’s more effective than conventional crunches.

When the average joe is doing a crunch, often he’s compensating for weakness by relying on incorrect muscles. Rather than getting a 6-pack, he’s stressing neck, shoulders and lower back. By simplifying the movement, you insure that you activate your most important abdominal muscle – the transversus abdominus (TA).

The TA is the body’s girdle, helping stabilize your spine, its powerhouse (as those who do pilates well know) and a natural weight belt (much more fashionable than the ones old-time lifters sport in the gym). By learning to activate and strengthen the TA, you reduce stress on your lower back, get stronger and are able to push higher weights.

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