Wednesday, July 1, 2015

the 1, 2, 3 getting started plan

With today being the first of the month, and the first day of the 2nd half of the year, I thought I'd share a simple idea to get started down the road to fitness. Here's a simple routine to get off the couch and work lots of different muscle groups in a short amount of time:

Push-ups, Sit-ups, Squats

  • July 1st - do one of each. That's it, just one.
  • July 2nd - do two of each.
  • July 3rd - do three of each.
  • and so on.
  • Each day, add one more of each exercise to what you did yesterday - you'll do the same number of each exercise as the day of the month.
  • It doesn't matter if you do them all in one set, so long as you do them all on that day. For example, on the 20th:
    • do 20 in a row, all in one set. Or,
    • do as many as you can, take a short rest, and then continue. Take as many breaks as needed to get to 20. Or,
    • do 10 in the morning and 10 in the evening.
    • As long as you 20 of each exercise on the 20th, you're on target!

The first few days may seem easy. That's OK - half of the battle is mental, and simply getting motivated to do the exercises is just as important as the physical exercises themselves. You're changing habits and building routines, which isn't easy in and of itself. Just relax and keep at it - it'll get physically demanding soon enough.

By the end of the month you'll be doing 31 push-ups, 31 sit-ups, and 31 squats in a single day. (and you will have done 496 of each during the course of the month!) This will be a great starting point to build from next month.

Remember - the goal is long-term health and fitness. You're not going to completely change your body this month; you're simply making forward progress down the path of creating a better you. Six months from now, a year from now, 5 years from now - it won't matter whether you started with 1 push-up or with 100; if you exercise consistently you'll be "fit".

Now go get after it!

- Chris Butterworth


Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 is half over - where do you stand?

Tomorrow marks the end of the first half of the year. 181 days down; 184 days to go. (because there are more months with 31 days in the 2nd half of the year - and no February.) How are you doing on achieving your goals?

Little things done consistently add up to big things. You can move a mountain by moving a few stones each day.

25 push-ups a day doesn't seem like an outrageous number. In fact, once you get into "push-up shape" it's probably very easy to do. And if you've been doing 25 push-ups a day, you've done 4,525 push-ups so far this year.

Walking, jogging, or running a mile a day doesn't take long. And if you've been doing it you've now run 181 miles so far this year - about halfway from Phoenix to Los Angeles!

Anyone who can do over 4,500 push-ups, or who can run 181 miles, is in pretty good shape. A lot better shape than if they had spent the first 6 months of the year sitting on the couch! If you haven't done 4,500 push-ups so far this year, now's a great time to get started on the 2nd half of the year.

What mountain are you going to move this year, one little stone at a time?

- Chris Butterworth


Saturday, June 27, 2015

the lesser of two evils

Diet soda is bad news because it contains artificial sweetener, which some people purport has long-term negative consequences such as rotting your tooth enamel and correlating with increased risk for cancer.

Regular soda is bad news because it contains about 150 calories per can, and because it contains buckets of sugar.

For me personally, I would prefer the bad news that comes from regular soda, except... I'm not very good at moderating with sugar. Somehow one can leads to another can, with a side snack of cookies and maybe some ice cream and/or a candy bar later in the afternoon. (It doesn't help that my office has plenty of snacks around for employee morale.) Next thing I know I've eaten about 1,000 calories worth of crap!

I don't do that with diet soda - I can drink a diet soda and be done with my craving.

I can hear you thinking "What about water? That's always a choice." Yes, I drink a lot of water - about 96 oz of water a day. But sometimes that just doesn't do the trick, and I have to scratch a craving's itch...

Your mileage may vary. But as long as you're considering the consequences of each alternative and making choices accordingly, you'll have a better chance of walking the path towards healthy.

- Chris Butterworth


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

too much sugar in soda

I drink a cup of coffee most mornings - sometimes black, sometimes with a little sugar. Yesterday though, I added more sugar than normal - not a lot, and not on purpose, but wow - my coffee tasted so sweet. Too sweet, actually.

Then I read the label on the sugar canister: 1 tsp of sugar has 15 calories. And then I really started thinking...

If this 15-calorie cup of coffee is too sweet, and a can of Coke has 140 calories - what else can be in a Coke that's adding a hundred or so calories?

​L​et's read the label:​ carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine. Hmmm - water, color, acid, caffeine.. is it possible all the calories are coming from HFCS (sugar)?

​That's when I went to the interwebs, and found a whole bunch of people had already done the research - and shown the results in pictures - and the results are scary! Check out the pictures below..

Sugar adds up fast!

Jon wrote a post on the Dad Is Learning blog, where he measured out the actual sugar consumed from drinking three cans of Dr Pepper per day: cubes up a picture by size of Coke:

Maybe you'd prefer to see it in Spanish, from the Alimento y Buen Vivir blog:

Or by spoonful, from the Body and Soul website:

It's all in your point of view

All this is just soda - we didn't even get into fruit juice, breakfast cereals, muffins, yogurt, and just about everything else that's been prepackaged..

The amount of sugar we're asking our bodies to process is astounding. Of course we can always fall back on the old adage "everything is ok in moderation" - an adage that I really like, by the way - but then we have to define moderation. Look back at those two glasses full of sugar from one week's worth of Dr Pepper; I wouldn't put a bag of refined sugar in front of my kids and expect them to finish it by the end of the month. Would you?

Ask me if I want a Coke, and I'll usually answer yes.

Ask me if I want a glass of carbonated water and 15 spoonfuls of sugar, and I'll pass - every time.

Maybe changing our point of view is the way to cut back on the amount of sugar we eat. I know I can't un-see those pictures..!

- Chris Butterworth


Thursday, May 14, 2015

2 examples why playing sports is GREAT exercise

Yesterday after work I convinced my 11-year old to go for a jog with me. I didn't want to burn him out or push him too hard, so I thought we'd go at a nice easy pace for about a mile and a half - "let's see what the kid's got", I thought to myself. I upped the ante by telling him if he wants to bring his soccer ball we could stop at the park on the way home and kick the ball around.

youth soccer - club soccer

Now, this is a kid who plays club soccer, which means he's playing soccer almost year round, a couple times a week (or more). So I assumed a 15-minute jog wouldn't be too much for him. Well, that was the understatement of the week!

Example #1: The soccer player was in better shape than the moderately fit guy.

While I jogged along at a moderate pace (probably about 9:30/mile but I wasn't timing it), my son was dribbling a soccer ball - zig-zagging back and forth across the path, stopping and starting, doing fancy moves, sprinting ahead of me before stopping to juggle the ball, etc. It was ridiculous! I would have been completely gassed if I had been doing what he was doing.

Granted he's 11 and I'm... much older. But still - that kid is in great shape even compared with other 11-year olds. Playing a high-intensity sport like soccer, consistently - week in and week out, is a great way to stay in shape.

Example #2: Playing soccer was much harder than running.

Once we had run our loop and ended up back at the park, we started kicking the soccer ball back and forth with each other. Kick the ball, trap the ball when it comes to you, dribble once or twice before kicking the ball back to the other guy, run a few steps so the other guy can pass to a moving target, cut back when you receive it and pass with your other foot, etc. etc. It was a lot of short bursts of energy - no more than a couple-few seconds at a time.

After 15 minutes of goofing around kicking the ball back and forth, I was far more tired than I had been after jogging. My heart was racing, I was covered in sweat, and I was panting for air. Not to mention I was using more muscles with greater intensity and range of motion.

If I had to choose which exercise would burn more calories and give me the best full-body workout for a given amount of time, I'd say playing soccer beat running yesterday - and by a large margin.

- Chris Butterworth

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