Counting down the pounds begins now

29 Dec

By ALEX MATTHEWS — The Post-Star | Posted: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 12:25 am

So, you overindulged during the holidays. Now that the merriment has worn off, certain remnants may still be bouncing around in your belly, and watch out because here comes the New Year.

For those of us wanting to get back on track or take the first step toward getting in shape, Glens Falls YMCA Wellness Center Coordinator Erica Ovitt offered some advice. According to Ovitt, the weight gain is mostly in your head.

“Eating the junk that’s around during the holidays just makes you feel gross,” she said. “Just coming in here (the Y) for one week will help you lose that feeling.”

Count down to 2010 with the following fitness tips to help gym-goers get the most out of each workout.

10. Pick a plan: For those itching for a regular routine, Ovitt gave two options. (a.) Do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (i.e. running on a treadmill, using a stationary bike or an elliptical machine) five days a week, or (b.) Split time between cardio and strength training with three days of cardio and two to three days of strength training.

9. Push yourself: “If you’ve been coming here for a year, and you’re still using the recumbent bike and you’re going 5 mph, then you need to step it up a bit,” Ovitt said. “If you’re pushing yourself, you’re going to see results, but if you’re just sitting there reading a book, you’re going to burn maybe 20 calories.”

8. Try something new: Once comfortable, move on from the recliner-type recumbent bike to something more upright. Ovitt said stationary bikes are good for beginners, and people can progress to elliptical trainers, treadmills and other machines that involve more coordination.

7. Get on the AMT: The Glens Falls Y has two Adaptive Motion Trainers (next to the Stairmasters), which allow three different movements – long strides, short strides and stair stepping. Ovitt said she exercises on this machine for 30 minutes, which can burn 300 to 400 calories using the elongated running motion.

6. Don’t call it quits: After her cardio workout, Ovitt cools down on the rowing machine then does some strength training – yes, that means weights.

“Strength training is definitely going to help boost your metabolism and build muscle,” she said.

Translation: burn more calories and lose weight.

5. Mind your heart rate: While machines are somewhat accurate at calculating caloric burn (provided you type in your weight and age), stopping to take your pulse to see how hard you’re working isn’t a bad idea.

Ovitt said to feel the pulse in your wrist, count the beats for 30 seconds then multiply the number by two. That’s your heart rate. For your maximum rate, subtract your age from 220. Multiply that number by 0.70 for a 70 percent effort to aim for. Those who are extremely fit can aim for 90 percent, she said.

4. Think less: Sometimes it’s easier to be told what to do. The Glens Falls Y has set up about 700 members on its Fitlinxx computer system, which records individual fitness achievements. “It tells you when you should increase your weights,” Ovitt said. “It’s like your own personal trainer.”

YMCA members can register for free with the help of a trainer in the Wellness Center, and they can review their progress on the Internet and print out their information. “A lot of people bring it to their doctors,” Ovitt said.

3. Feel the burn: Ovitt gave a brief rundown of the top moves, with or without weights, for the most immediate results. She added that the Wellness Center staff can explain any and all of the following exercises:

Lower body: lunges and squats.

Upper body: bicep curls, overhead raises and tricep dips.

Core: Abdominal crunches and side-to-side movements with a weighted medicine ball, scissors and jackknife leg movements on the ground with head raised, hands across chest or to the side.

Back: back extension machine.

Work hard with minimal rest between exercises (for weight loss), but there’s no reason to be in the gym for more than two hours, Ovitt said. “If you can’t walk the next day, probably tone it back a bit. You’ve probably pushed yourself too hard.”

2. Try a class: Spinning and rowing classes rank among the best for burning calories, according to Ovitt, with an hour of resistance cycling torching 400 to 600 calories on average. Rowing incorporates full-body strength training and can eliminate 300 to 600 calories in an hour. Pilates also helps strengthen the core, and yoga stretches and elongates tight bodies.

1. Have fun and be realistic: Ovitt stressed the importance of finding machines, exercises and classes you enjoy. “Keep it interesting,” she said, adding that switching cardio machines mid-workout is a good idea. “Do what you want to do so you’ll keep doing it.”

As for what to expect, don’t envision yourself five pounds slimmer in a week. The most an average person could lose in a week would be about a 1/2 pound to two pounds, Ovitt said.

“Rather than looking at a number on a scale, measure yourself with a pair of pants,” she said, explaining that results can take two weeks to a month to become apparent.

And don’t think of the New Year as an intro to boot camp, or you’re likely to burn out. “You’ve got to start small,” Ovitt said. “Small and realistic.”

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