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September 2014


13 healthy tips for '13

If your New Year's resolution involves shaping up for 2013, fitness experts from the Mukwonago Athletic Club and the YMCA of Central Waukesha County-Mukwonago YMCA provide 13 of the best ways to get fit and stay fit for the new year.

Top 13 ways to get fit

Brent Reichert, Mukwonago Athletic Club

We cannot achieve what is not defined. So what is fitness? The most basic components are cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility/mobility and body composition (the percentage of your body weight that is fat vs. lean body mass, such as bone, muscle, etc.). This needs to be noted, because most just focus on cardio this time of year, which is only one aspect of fitness.

Tips to get fit in 2013 - in no particular order, because they are all important:

1. Check with your doctor first. If you are starting an exercise program, a quick checkup is well worth the time and money to make sure there aren't any underlying health issues that you are unaware of. Safety first!

2. Perform flexibility/mobility work. This is one of the most important aspects of fitness - and the most neglected. If you cannot move your joints through their full range of motion, exercise performance is reduced, injuries are more likely and daily activities are more difficult. As we say around here, if you reach your goal weight, but can't reach your feet to tie your shoes, you missed the overall goal. Flexibility does not show up on a scale or in the mirror; as a result, many skip this aspect of fitness. The solution: Stretch at your workstation or while watching TV at night.

3. Perform some form of strength training. This is the second most-neglected aspect of fitness that improves muscular strength and muscular endurance. Strength training also increases bone density, revs up your metabolism and makes every-day activities easier. Cardiovascular exercise is important, but I can almost guarantee that in your day-to-day activities for the next week you will not need to run continuously at a moderate pace for 20 to 30 minutes. However, you will likely have to perform such tasks as opening jars, picking up your kids, moving something heavy or awkward, etc. A simple strength training program takes 30 minutes or less, two to three times per week; you can use dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands or your body weight.

4.Hydrate. It is estimated that 75 percent of the population is chronically dehydrated. We are made up of 50 to 70 percent water, and it is involved in just about every bodily process. Drinking enough water may provide clearer/healthier skin, increased energy and improved digestion, just to name a few. The general recommendation is half your body weight in ounces every day. Give it a try - you'll feel great. For those of you worried about the increased bathroom visits, that just means more walking during the day. Proper hydration and more physical activity in one healthy habit!

5. Develop a plan to overcome your barriers to exercise. There are always things that prevent us from working out. The trick is to figure out what they are and develop a plan to overcome them. Get creative! Only you know what will work for you. If have not exercised regularly up to this point, examine why; those are your barriers. The common ones are time and motivation. A lot of people simply don't like exercise.

Do these excuses sound familiar?

I'm too tired after work. Can you get up early? Workout over lunch?

I don't have the time. Try a quick (but intense) circuit workout. Can you walk during breaks at work? Perform body weight squats and burpees during your favorite TV show?

Motivation. Set goals and visualize yourself accomplishing those goals several times a day. Picture yourself having already accomplished your goal and feel how great it is.

6. Get fit at work. Stretch at your workstation, go for a walk during breaks, or climb stairs over lunch.

7. Play and get outside. Kids exercise all the time, but they call it play. You don't have to be any different as an adult. Sledding is a great workout, and fun too! If you have kids, take them sledding. If they get tired, have them sit in the sled and pull them up the hill. Go make a snow fort, ice skate or cross country ski.

8. Get the support of a group. This can take many forms: Surround yourself with people sharing common goals, join a personal training group or take a group exercise class. There is power in numbers!

9. H.I.I.T. Instead of just performing long, slow, distance cardio sessions, mix things up with high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) once or twice a week. Basically, this is alternating periods of high intensity and low intensity while running, biking or any other cardiovascular activity. For example, after a gradual five-minute warmup, increase the speed, level, incline, etc. to a challenging level for 60 seconds. Then reduce the intensity for 60 seconds as a recovery period. Repeat this six times, followed by a gradual five-minute cool down. This type of training prevents boredom, has been shown to be highly effective in increasing both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, keeps the calorie burning going for hours afterward, and doesn't take much time.

10. Circuit training. This is another great option for the free-time impaired. Circuit training is simply performing a series of strength training exercises with little or no rest in between (leg press, chest press, pulldown, shoulder press, row, ab crunch, calf raise). Rest for a minute or two and repeat the circuit one or two more times. It provides a quick strength-training workout, cardiovascular conditioning and offers an alternative to traditional strength training routines.

11. Sleep. Make sure you get at least seven hours a night. Besides the huge number of health benefits, making sure you get adequate rest will help prevent fatigue during the day that may hinder your workouts or cause you to skip them all together.

12. Eat well. If weight loss is your goal, about 80 percent of your success comes from what you put in your mouth. Here are some quick tips to get you geared up: Go through the refrigerator and pantry, clearing out all the junk. Then, put together a healthy shopping list and stock up on the good stuff. Remember the perimeter rule: The good stuff tends to be on the perimeter of the store (produce, meat, dairy, etc.). The processed stuff is typically in the aisles.

13.Plan your workouts and schedule them like an appointment. This helps prevent missing workouts or wandering around trying to figure out what to do that day. At the beginning of the week, you should know when and where you are working out and what you will be doing each day. Keep a training journal, so you can track your progress.

Thirteen ways to stick with an exercise program

Nicki Kolinske, Fitness and Wellness Director, Mukwonago YMCA

1. Set goals. Make sure the goals you choose are simple and realistic. This will eliminate frustration down the road and set you up for success. A good short-term goal for a new exerciser could be to walk 20 minutes a day three times a week. Set new goals as you achieve the old ones. Goals will keep you focused and on track.

2. Get to know yourself. It might sound strange, but it helps to know what you enjoy and what your habits are. By knowing what motivates you, you are better able to choose activities that will help you stay on track. Have you tried an exercise routine in the past? Most of us have, but for one reason or another, fell off track. It's important to identify what happened in the past that did or did not work for you, and then establish a new game plan. Do regular check-ins with yourself, and be conscious of the choices you make.

3. Have fun. Let's face it, the same old exercise routine can get boring after a while. Try to engage yourself in activities you enjoy. I enjoy sports and a little competition every once in a while, so I like to mix some volleyball and basketball into my regular workout routines. I also enjoy being with family and my dog, so we take regular walks outdoors. Mix in some group exercise classes to your routine such as TRX, Zumba or boot camp. 4. Mix it up. Variety is the spice of life! Work out on our strength training circuit at the Y or try one of our many group exercise classes. Meet with one of our personal trainers for advice on what you can do to get the most of your workouts. Try a new workout DVD at home. The more you mix things up, the less chance you have for getting bored. There are lots of options, so don't be afraid to try new things.

5. Try to add physical activity to your daily routine; make time for exercise. Get creative by finding ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Take the stairs, work out on the treadmill at lunch, park at the back of the parking lot or do a few sets of crunches during each commercial break of your favorite show on TV. These simple efforts can go a long way. I so often hear from our Y members that they don't have much time to exercise. It's a fact that we all have busy schedules and many responsibilities. However, you have to schedule exercise into your day like you would anything else. If it's important to you, you will make it happen.

6. Make yourself a priority. We all have many responsibilities, but often neglect ourselves when it comes to our health. You must shift your priorities a bit and remind yourself that taking care of you is important too. Don't be afraid to take time for yourself and treat exercise as time for you and nobody else.

7. Reward yourself. Once you accomplish your first goal, reward yourself. This reward could be anything: buying new workout clothes, getting a massage, whatever makes you happy.

8. Get support. Sometimes we need a helping hand to give us that extra motivation to stay on track. That is why it's important to share with your family and friends what you want to accomplish. The more they understand what you are working toward, the more they can support you and give you the encouragement you need to stay on track. Feeling negativity from those around you? Eliminate the negative and seek out the positive. Surround yourself with positive energy as much as possible.

9. Don't give up if you have setbacks. Yes, it will happen. You may fall off track and have a terrible week where you completely forgot about your goal. That's OK. Nobody is perfect, and you will have times when health and fitness might not be your main focus. But it's how you recover from that setback that will determine your future success.

10. Remind yourself to stay on track. Find fun and creative ways to remind yourself of your fitness goal. For some, this might be putting it on paper, and for others it might be a reminder on your cellphone to get to the gym. Also, there are many websites that you can use to help track your eating and activity. This can be valuable when it comes to staying on track as it helps to see progress on paper.

11. Pack your gym bag. No excuses that you didn't bring your workout clothes! Pack it the night before and have everything ready to go so you can head to the Y on your way home from work.

12. Meet with a personal trainer. I may be biased as I am a personal trainer myself, but I have honestly seen amazing results from those who have worked directly with a trainer. All of our Y trainers are nationally certified and can give you the best start when it comes to getting on a safe and effective exercise routine. Its important to have someone keeps you accountable and to challenge you if you are not getting the results you want on your own.

13. Don't give up. No matter what, don't give up! You are worth it and deserve to be healthy and happy!

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