Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are you a Skinny Fat, a Treadmill Rat or a Classic Guy? Find Your Fitness Profile

Welcome back to the third installment of fitness tips for those of us who are not marathon runners, gym rats, yoga gurus or health nuts. The first blog in the series was "Neighborhood Fitness for Workout Flunkies" and the second, "Top Ten Tips from a Personal Trainer." Maybe you are like me when it comes to fitness: a little lazy, and looking for some new sources of inspiration.

It appears this subject hit a chord with many of you. Thanks to your incredible readership, last week's blog was the #3 most read - with over 51,000 views. Wow! The comments were fabulous and included other ideas, tips and personal stories. Clearly I am not the only one wondering or worried about this subject.

This week is about the secrets of being comfortable in your own skin. My muse of inspiration for this series is Terri O'Hara: an incredibly inspiring mom and personal trainer, who is bringing the idea of fitness and lifestyle back to the basics. No gimmicks, not hype, no false promises - just simple information and refreshing common sense.

The question of how you feel in your own skin translates both physically and emotionally. Physically it can mean fretting that the triceps under your arms flop around, and your backside droops. Emotionally it can be feeling tired and lousy during the day, even with enough sleep. Your answer to the question becomes the starting place for your own fitness program.

Part of lifestyle fitness is gaining a sense of 'well being,' and everyone has their own unique definition. For some, 'well being' may have to do with the inner experience of feeling calm, balanced and connected. For others, it is our physical fitness. And for most, it is a combination of the two. How is your well being lately?

Bottom line, many Americans do not feel comfortable in their own skin, and do not rank their "well being" very high. The tabloids paint a picture of fitness and glamor that is impossible for most people to attain. Over 67% of Americans are overweight, and facing debilitating illnesses like diabetes in record numbers. Clearly the concepts of dieting just don't work.

Think of the French: fabulous, breezy, fashionable - comfortable in their skin - and what do they eat? Bread, cheese, wine and chocolate! What are we missing over here? Check out the wonderful book, "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mirelle Guiliano for a wonderful read on the secrets of eating for pleasure.

"It is so important to know where we stand with our body." stresses O'Hara. "The only way to figure out how to be comfortable in your own skin is to know where your body needs support, and then you can create a list of what to address first."
When it comes to nutrition - some people need to eat less, or different foods, and others actually need to eat more. When it comes to exercise, according to O'Hara, variety is the key, and the genders have to trade places!

Here are three classic fitness profiles of everyday folks who need a little change in their health and fitness routines, as well as a few expert tips:

#1 The "Skinny Fat" - This is someone who is thin on the outside, but has a high fat content on the inside. They have mastered the ability to starve themselves through most of the day, with coffee and a granola bar, and then pig out on a pound of oysters and camembert cheese in the afternoon. They can look thin, but have a 35% fat level, and do not have effective energy or muscle mass. "These people forgot to maintain nutrition!" said O'Hara, "if they start eating healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, as well as adding resistance training, they will lose that high percentage of body fat and increase their muscles."

#2 "Treadmill Rat" - A classic example of a treadmill rat is Mom USA: she has kids in school, goes to the gym and gets on the treadmill 3-4 times per week, or takes an aerobics class - and is convinced she is making a big difference in her health. "80% of women at the gym are 'doing their thing' on the treadmills or elliptical, and are in a total fitness rut," explains O'Hara. "They are not building any muscle or strengthening their bones, which is so critical in later life. They need to switch with the boys and get on the free weights,and for a great nutrition tip: divide your weight in half and try to eat that many grams of protein each day." (For example: if you weight 120 lbs. you would try to eat about 60 grams of protein each day.)

#3 "Classic Guy"- The classic guy goes to the gym to 'push around some weights.' They have protruding bellies, and love to do arm curls, bench press and build their calves with leg presses. They hang out on the "macho side of the gym" with the free weights. "These guys need to introduce some movement into their routine," said O'Hara. "They need to increase cardio as well as multi-joint, multi-muscular, and functional resistance training."

Here's the bottom line for any fitness profile: strengthen muscles through resistance training, strengthen the heart through cardio, change your weight by keeping a food log of what you eat, and get back in the kitchen. It's that simple.

A great tool to help figure out where to focus is to check out the state of the art website: and take the real age questionnaire. It takes about 30 minutes, and you receive an instant report that shows your real age vs. your physical age. You can be 80 and living like a 50 year old - or vice-versa. It is 100% free, and has some inspiring tips about fitness, health, and lifestyle with the infamous Dr. Oz.

After writing about this for a month straight, I am happy to say I am back in the gym, and gingerly trying to steal a bench press from the guys. I have reassessed my guilt over working out, into a positive movement towards how I want to feel every day. Love to hear your thoughts, inspirations or questions!

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