Essential Gear for Starting an Exercise Program

Athletic shoes and socks

If there is one thing to invest in before starting your exercise program, make it your shoes. Quality athletic shoes that fit your feet well and that are designed for your activity can help reduce the risk of pain and injury. In addition to shoes, also consider your socks. Athletic socks that wick moisture are affordable, and they can help you ward off common issues such as blisters.

Comfortable clothing

The number one priority of your exercise clothing is that it should be comfortable, but don’t confuse comfortable with loose and baggy. Big tee shirts and sweatpants may seem like a good choice, but they can get in the way of your workout. Most are also made of cotton, which traps heat and moisture causing you to overheat. Spandex is not a requirement, but more form fitting clothing that wicks moisture and allows you to move easily is ideal.

Tracking tools

Fitness involves more than just your weight, so determine how you will measure your progress before you start your program. Waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure , and body fat are all components of fitness that you can track. Gather your initial data, and enter it into your MyFoodDiary account. Track your progress at regular intervals such as every month or every three months to make sure you are getting the results to meet your goals.

Stopwatch

Your interval training, circuit workouts, and front planks will be simple to track with an inexpensive stopwatch.

Mat

Floor exercises like push-ups, crunches, and yoga poses are effective exercises. While they don’t require equipment, a mat will make them much more comfortable. Mats provide some cushioning for your back on hard floors, but you can also double up the layers to protect your knees during modified push-ups or use it as a bolster to sit on during yoga.

Water bottle

Hydration helps you perform better during exercise, so keep a water bottle handy throughout your workout. Select one that is easy to use while in motion, and consider an insulated version to keep your drink cool.

Seasonal Changes that Cause Weight Gain

Seasonal Changes that Cause Weight Gain

As seasons change, you may notice a change in your eating and exercise habits. While some of these changes are positive, others can have a negative impact on your choices and lead to unwanted weight gain.

Summer

Summer is a season of fresh, nutritious foods, but a few things may work against your healthy intentions. Backyard barbecues can tempt you with high-calorie burgers, hot dogs, chips, and ice cream. Local fairs and festivals offer deep fried foods and high-sugar desserts. It can be difficult to pass up these once-a-year treats.

Summer can also make it harder to stick to your workouts. Hot temperatures and humidity can leave you feeling lethargic and make it unsafe to exercise outside.

What to do: Be selective about the foods you eat. Choose only those that are true treats, and take the time to savor them. Make a plan for workouts at home or consider a temporary gym membership so you don’t abandon your workouts due to a hot day.

Autumn

Autumn brings cooler temperatures that are ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Unfortunately, it is also a busy time of year for families. As you adjust to the back-to-school season, you may feel overwhelmed with little time to be active. The extra stress can lead to emotional eating, little exercise, and poor nutrition.

What to do: Find healthy ways to control stress and make those activities a priority. Even 10 minutes of meditation or yoga each morning can set the tone for a healthier day. Get outside when you can. Being in nature is calm and relaxing, which also reduces stress.

Winter

When winter hits, the cravings for high-carbohydrate comfort foods come with it. With fewer fresh foods available, you may fall into a rut with food choices and be tempted by unhealthy comfort foods. As the weeks move into the holiday season, temptations for unhealthy food grows and stress can increase emotional eating. Additionally, shorter days and cold temperatures make squeezing in your workouts more challenging.

What to do: Don’t let the holiday season sneak up on you. Make a plan and apply it as early as October. Choose when you will stick to healthy eating and what is worth a splurge. Plan for a busy schedule and how you will adjust your workouts. Find ways to make your favorite comfort foods healthier by incorporating more vegetables and fewer heavy creams and sauces.

Spring

As you transition out of a long winter, spring weather can be a motivating force to eat healthier and to get moving, but one thing could get you off track. After three months of sticking to your new year’s resolutions it may be tempting to give up, especially if you aren’t seeing the changes you expected. Heading into spring feeling discouraged may prevent you from taking advantage of outdoor workouts and seasonal fresh foods, and cause you to return to old habits.

What to do: Reevaluate your resolutions. Check your progress, and if you aren’t where you want to be, determine if your goals are on track. Perhaps you are expecting too many changes too soon or you are forcing yourself to do an activity you don’t enjoy. If your goals are no longer working, set new ones. Change up your routine to keep both your eating and exercise interesting and exciting.

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Recipe Baked oatmeal makes a healthy breakfast that can be made early in the week and reheated on a busy morning. This version uses frozen blueberries for a sweet and hearty breakfast that isn’t loaded with sugar or saturated fat.

Yield: 6 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 ½ cups skim milk

1 cup frozen blueberries

3 tbsp brown sugar or raw sugar

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp fine ground sea salt

1 large egg white, beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 4-cup casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Add the oats and milk to a medium bowl and stir well. Next, stir in the blueberries, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.

Stir in the egg white. Continue to stir until it is fully incorporated into the oatmeal.

Pour the oatmeal into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are browned. Cut into 6 portions and serve warm.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 156; Total Fat 1.8 g; Saturated Fat 0.3 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 133 mg; Carbohydrate 27.9 g; Fiber 3.6 g; Sugar 10.7 g; Protein 6.2 g

Indoor Exercises that Burn Tons of Calories

Indoor Exercises that Burn Calories

Moving workouts indoors during hot weather will allow you to keep up the intensity without overheating. Don’t think that an indoor workout means you have to surrender to lengthy sessions on the treadmill. Add variety by trying new classes, sports, and routines that burn calories and keep you fit.

Rowing machine

If you prefer cardio sessions on machines, step off the treadmill and try something new. Most gyms have rowing machines, but many are rarely used despite the fact that rowing is an excellent full body workout. It is unique in that it works both the upper and lower body at the same time to increase the heart rate. It can be challenging at first, so start by working a few minutes on the rowing machine into your cardio session. As your coordination and fitness improve, you’ll be ready for longer sessions.

Calories burned in 1 hour at a moderate pace: 478

Indoor cycling

Cycling classes remain one of the most popular workouts at the gym. They allow you to adjust the intensity to your fitness level with the opportunity to push yourself for a challenging workout. If you shy away from group exercise classes because of complicated choreography or complex moves, then indoor cycling is for you.

Calories burned in 1 hour of vigorous indoor cycling: 711

Basketball

Indoor recreational sports are great ways to change your routine when it’s too hot outside for your usual walk or run. The stop-and-go activity of basketball provides your cardiovascular system and muscles with a new type of training.

Calories burned in 1 hour: 399

Dance classes

Take a break from the workout mentality and make your physical activity more fun with dance classes. If you’ve been interested in learning dance, now is the time to do it. Everything from hip-hop to ballroom dancing will boost cardio fitness, challenge your muscles, and improve your flexibility. Plus, you can boost brain health by learning something new.

Calories burned hip-hop dancing for 1 hour: 360

Circuit training

End the boredom of 30-minute cardio sessions followed by strength training by creating a circuit workout. Alternate one strength training exercise with five minutes of cardio for the length of your session. It’s a workout that keeps the heart rate up and blasts calories. You can perform your circuit on machines at the gym or by combining dumbbells with jogging in place, jumping jacks, and squat jumps.

Calories burned in 1 hour: 558

* Calories burned are based on a 150 pound female.

5 Whole Grains for Healthy Salads

5 Whole Grains for Healthy Salads

Cooked barley

Don’t restrict your salads to only leafy greens. These healthy whole grains add a burst of flavor, texture, and nutrients to make boring salads more exciting.

Barley

Barley is a nutty, chewy grain that is delicious sprinkled over mixed greens. The dietary fiber in barley contains beta glucans, which may reduce blood cholesterol. Barley also contains niacin, which has been found to protect against cardiovascular disease. Choose hulled barley over pearled barley as it still contains some of the bran and endosperm of the grain. To cook, simmer 1 cup of dry hulled barley in about 3 ½ cups of water for 60 minutes, or until tender and chewy.

Bulgur

Bulgur is a cracked wheat that is often used in Middle Eastern tabbouleh salads of parsley, mint, and garlic. Bulgur is lower in calories and carbohydrates and has more fiber than many other grains, including quinoa. Because it is pre-cooked before it is sold, bulgur takes less time to prepare than most whole grains. Simmer 1 cup of bulgur in 2 ½ cups of water for about 10 minutes, or you can pour boiling water over the grains and let them sit for 1 hour to soften.

Kamut

Kamut is a form of wheat with a chewy grain and a rich, buttery flavor. It makes delicious cold grain salads and can be stirred into vegetable salads like broccoli slaw. Kamut is higher in protein than other forms of wheat and provides vitamin E. Soak kamut overnight and drain. Simmer 1 cup of soaked kamut in 3 cups of water for 45 to 60 minutes.

Red Rice

Red rice is a whole grain from Bhutan with a nutty, earthy flavor. When cooked, it turns a pale pink color, and its flavor goes well with salads made of roasted mushrooms and peppers. Red rice is a gluten-free grain that contains potassium and magnesium. To prepare, bring 1 cup of the rice to a boil in 1 ½ cups of water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Wheat berries

Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels that have a nutty flavor and a chewy texture similar to barley and kamut. They make a hearty topping for mixed green salads and work well as a base for cold grain salads. Both red and white wheat berries are whole grains that contain protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Rinse 1 cup of wheat berries well, and bring to a boil in 4 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes.

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