Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Elements of Fitness

Let's go back to basics for a minute—it's really important to stop and check yo'self on occasion. Who knows, you might have let something fall through the cracks. And by "something," I mean an essential element of fitness. What are they? There are 4. And every fitness regime should include them in one way, shape or form. Behold:

1) CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE: According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should be getting two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or an hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Of course, additional benefits are achieved when those numbers are increased. They just represent the bare minimum. But they are not the be all/end all. You can't live on the cardio equipment and get strong, sculpted muscles.

2) MUSCULAR STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE: You should be strength training each muscle group at least two times a week, and never (ever) on consecutive days. Pumping iron challenges your muscles in ways that promote easier living. It's our muscles, after all, that facilitate our movement. You do the math. (Oh, and...there's that whole "muscle use burns fat" thing. So why not use 'em a little in the gym after you run on the treadmill?)

3) FLEXIBILITY: Does a stiff rubber band hold your newspaper together? Negative, therefore stiff muscles won't hold your body together. Well, OK. So they will...but they won't move very easily which can cause all sorts of aches and pains down the line. When you strength train or test that cardiovascular endurance, you work your muscles so much that they clench up. Stretching after a workout pulls them back to their usable state, promoting better body mechanics moving forward.

4) BODY COMPOSITION: Fat versus fat-free mass. Obviously we know which one should feature the higher percentage.  Tie in the three components above to a healthy, well-balanced diet and you'll find that the fat comes off a lot easier. Shall I put it bluntly? Stop consuming processed crap, like Big Macs and Big Gulps. They just negate the work you do at the gym.

There are four pieces to the fitness puzzle, and so it goes without saying that the fitness puzzle is incomplete with out each of them. And that's why we need to go back to basics on occasion, to make sure we're putting all of the pieces together. Only then can you complete the picture.

Speaking of pictures. Check out my lunch:

Simply Healthy Black Bean Soup. I was thinking about it all morning at the gym, how I would make it right when I got home, then consume it promptly upon it's completion. Which I did, but not without tearing away a few pages from my calendar. Didja catch today's phrase, pictured above? "Try this dinner: A big vat of veggie and bean soup, served with a fat salad." No salad, but I got the veggie and bean part down.

Love this stuff so much when the temps drop. I want another bowl just typing about it. But alas, I'm really not that hungry. And I've got things to do: Baby's closet is ready to be filled with what we've got so far, and I have to take my Prenatal & Postpartum Exercise Design exam. (Bring it.)

Question: Are you guilty of scrimping on any of the elements listed above?

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