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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Soil Power Helps Team Win Fitness Challenge

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(Editor’s Note: One of the activities of the LSU AgCenter’s wellness committee was a competition to see which team could make the most improvement in its activity level over a set number of weeks. The team that won was a group in Shreveport who called themselves the “Soil Brothers and Sisters.” Mary Ann Van Osdell, area communications specialist, was one of the “sisters.”)

Having a good leader, fun meetings and friendly competition has kept the “Soil Brothers and Sisters,” as we decided to call ourselves, in first place in the LSU AgCenter’s Fitness Challenge.

Rusty Anderson, a research associate at the Red River Research Station in Bossier City, where most of us have our offices, was the team leader and wrote hilarious, motivational e-mails, complete with such tunes as “I Feel Good” by singing legend James Brown.

He had us living in the age of “Soilquarius,” using language like, “Can you dig that?” and “Let the sun shine in.”

At one point, he went military on the team, swearing us to fitness, health and victory. And we took him seriously and succeeded. Now I don’t want to revert back to pre-challenge habits.

"This has been a chance for a bunch of friends to have fun together working toward a worthy and common goal,” Anderson said.

I was never one to exercise or watch what I ate because I am, luckily, underweight. I’ve actually written about my struggles to gain weight.

However, working for the LSU AgCenter has made me realize the importance of good nutrition and physical activity. Because of the competition, I began walking my dog and eating more fruits and vegetables. Even Zoe, the dog, shed pounds. I also aired up my bicycle tires and went for rides in the neighborhood.

I substituted water and juice for soft drinks about 50 percent of the time and chose vegetable plates over meat dishes more often, trying to get my husband, David, to do the same and mentioning other tips for him. Our desserts became fruit cobblers.

If David hears Smart Portions one more time, he might throw his plate at me.

I kept up with the competition while on vacation in New York City, where I earned lots of points for walking. Because of the challenge, I believe I was able to wear a five-year-old bathing suit on my fall trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There, I tried something I might not have before the challenge – fresh beet, carrot and cantaloupe juice.

More importantly, I bought a Wii Fit, still eat more fruits and vegetables and am cutting down the amount of food served at Thanksgiving at my house. I’ll be a healthy hostess by not putting food all over the house and not encouraging overindulgence. Instead, I’ll tell my guests to take what is left over home with them in inexpensive plastic containers I’ll provide. The side benefit will be reducing cleanup so we can play bingo sooner and enjoy family time, which is what the day is all about.

Throughout the holidays I plan to follow a tip from a Newsweek article entitled, “Think Thin To Get Thin,” and that is: Never eat standing up because that is food you didn't plan to eat. We fill up at parties, with grocery store samples and nibble as we prepare meals. Not anymore!

Mary Ann Van Osdell

 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fitness Competition Training Tips

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(Editor’s Note: Following are some tips pulled together by Carrie Lawrence, R.D., Terrebonne Regional Medical Center, Houma, La., to help you get ready for competitive fitness events.)

Hydration

  • Drink 17-20 ounces of fluid two hours before training.
  • Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid 10-20 minutes before training.
  • Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes during training.
  • Drink 20-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after training.
  • To ensure adequate hydration, urine color should be a pale yellow color.
  • In a humid environment, drink cold fluids during training and plan for frequent fluid breaks.
  • Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and carbonated beverages because they are natural diuretics.

Water is the best option for fluids because it is digested easier and has no calories. Drinks such as Gatorade are harder to digest and add extra calories. The extra electrolytes and carbohydrates in drinks such as Gatorade are only beneficial if exercise lasts for more than one hour.

Energy Intake

  • Eat at least three servings of vegetables (1 serving = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, ½ cup cooked vegetables or ¾ cup of vegetable juice) and two servings of fresh fruits (1 serving = 1 medium fruit, ½ cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit, ¾ cup of 100% fruit juice) to make sure to get needed vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Choose high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and oats.
  • Try new and different foods in your diet to increase variety and avoid the same foods everyday.

Race Day

  • If nerves tend to give you a problem with frequent bowel movements or even diarrhea, try a low-fiber diet to help prevent these problems.
  • Try to avoid spicy foods to prevent heartburn or gastrointestinal problems.
  • Make sure to eat a well-balanced breakfast.
  • Eat only familiar foods to avoid an upset stomach on race day.

Debbie Melvin

 

Friday, November 14, 2008

A 5K Walk/Run Takes Preparation

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This year’s LSU AgCenter Annual Conference, which is Dec. 15-16, has a new feature to fit in with the Chancellor’s Challenge wellness program. The planning committee has organized a 5K run/walk on the Sunday afternoon, Dec. 14, before the conference begins. It’s open to anyone attending the conference. If you are considering joining your co-workers for the 5K, you will want to begin training soon. A 5K is 3.1 miles and you can run, walk or run/walk. All are acceptable. Usually, if you sign up for a race to run, walking is permissible. But if you register as a walker, running is not allowed.

Make sure you have the right shoes. They are the biggest expense for a runner so it is important to get a good quality shoe that fits properly. If you are not sure how to shop for a running shoe, seek the help of a fit expert at a running specialty store. The next step is to devise a plan you actually put on paper. If it has been a while since you have done any running, or you are a beginner, remember to start slowly and gradually increase to prevent injuries. Some people think they have to give it all they have and run continuously until they give out. They often get discouraged, out of breath and feel totally out of shape and defeated. A successful new runner can actually begin a running program by following a run/walk routine. You may run for 30 seconds, walk until you feel recovered, and repeat the process several times until you reach the total time in your plan.

After following this procedure for a few workouts, increase the run time to one full minute. A reachable goal is to run four minutes and walk one minute, even in the race. The walking segments are ideal for recovery and injury prevention.

This system has proved successful a thousand times over. Even many long-distance runners continue to use the run/walk plan to train and complete marathons, and that is 26.2 miles.

Run/walk training represents a simple, commonsense approach to conditioning. Your body will gradually be able to run more and walk less. It can help you train healthier and can even help you get faster. Best of all, walk breaks will add confidence to your training. Your lungs develop, and your heart gets stronger. You will feel wonderfully energized and ready for the next workout. A beginning running program should include at least one rest day in between running days. A simple program features only three run days each week. You can walk or do other activities that are not weight-bearing, like biking or swimming, the other days, if desired. Just remember to allow for at least one complete day of rest.

If the AgCenter's Live Fit campaign has already motivated you to exercise, preparing for the 5K just means you will have to step up the pace a little, which is what a program of running and walking does. You won't get exhausted and frustrated, thanks to the walking breaks, and you'll get all the benefits that vigorous exercise brings, thanks to the running. Not a bad deal.

Debbie Melvin

 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Get Ready for Chancellor’s 4-H Centennial 5K Run/Walk Dec. 14

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(Editor’s Note: Starting today, Nov. 7, the Chancellor’s Challenge blog takes on a different character. Members of the LSU AgCenter’s Wellness Committee, which was started last year, will take turns writing blogs – their experiences in the journey to a healthier lifestyle. Other AgCenter people will join in occasionally, including Chancellor Bill Richardson, as will other guest bloggers across the state. Please keep reading and sending your comments via the Post a Comment link.)

The 3x3x3 plan

With just five weeks left before the Chancellor’s 4-H Centennial 5K run/walk, it’s time to kick it into gear! Whether you plan on running or walking the 3-mile event, the 3x3x3 plan will help you cross the finish line and accomplish your goal. Too many people have been turned off by running simply because they start off too fast. Their bodies rebel, and they wind up miserable, wondering why anyone would possibly want to do this to themselves.

The 3x3x3 plan means three sessions per week, for 3 x 10 minutes each session, with a goal of being able to run/walk 3 miles in five weeks. Optimally, each session should take about 20 or 30 minutes, with a five-minute warm-up and cool-down. However, you can break up each session into three 10-minute bouts; hence the 3 x 10 minute part. That just happens to be the same amount of moderate exercise recommended for optimum fitness.

Before you begin

The key to victory is to ease into a running program gradually. Do yourself a favor and purchase a decent pair of shoes from a specialty shoe store. Examples in Baton Rouge include Varsity Sports and Fleet Feet. The experts at these stores will watch your gait pattern and determine the best fit shoe for you. You can even try them out before you buy.

Start slow

Once you get out there, make sure you take it easy, especially the first two weeks. Stretch often. If something’s especially sore: ice it. Don’t be afraid of a walk break if you need one. Cool down and stretch some more.

Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don't worry about how fast you're going. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now, focus on gradually increasing the time or distance you run.

The amazing thing about our bodies is that they will heal themselves from abuse like running. They’ll come back better, faster, stronger! But you have to give them a chance.

Run for time or run for distance

You can measure your runs by time or by distance. Either one works just as well. Choose the option that seems easiest for you to keep track of. If you go with the distance option, and you are not using a track to measure the distances, just estimate. It's not important to have the distances absolutely exact.

Before setting out, make sure to precede each session with a five-minute warm-up walk or jog. Be sure to stretch both before and after.

The beginners' program outlined below is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program. The idea is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just five weeks.

Before you begin, complete the seven-item Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q). If you answer yes to any of the questions, consult your physician before beginning an exercise regimen.

The schedule

Week

Workout 1

Workout 2

Workout 3

1

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

5-min. cool-down walk

2

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then alternate 2 minutes of jogging and three minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then alternate 2 minutes of jogging and three minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then alternate 2 minutes of jogging and three minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

5-min. cool-down walk

3

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk. Then do two repetitions of the following:

Jog 3 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Jog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk. Then do two repetitions of the following:

Jog 3 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Jog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk. Then do two repetitions of the following:

Jog 3 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Jog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

5-min. cool-down walk

4

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk. Then:

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)

Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)

Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk. Then:

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)

Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)

Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

5-min. cool-down walk

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk.

Then:

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

5-min. cool-down walk

5

Brisk 5-min. warm-up walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking.

10 minute cool-down walk

REST!

RACE DAY

Execute your plan

It's easy to get impatient, and you may feel tempted to skip ahead in the program, but hold yourself back. Don't try to do more, even if you feel you can. If, on the other hand, you find the program too strenuous, just stretch it out. Don't feel pressured to continue faster than you're able. Repeat weeks if needed and move ahead only when you feel you're ready.

Keep track of your daily progress. Don’t get yourself down if you miss a workout. Just move it to another day. We’re only talking about three days a week. Just try to make sure you still have recovery days in between, particularly when you first start out.

Your diet

Don’t go on a diet, just pay attention to what you’re eating. Chances are, when you start running, your appetite will increase. Don’t let that increased intake be ONLY junk foods. If you do eat lots of carbs, try and do it before a run. I like to eat half a granola bar or a banana before my runs. Afterward: A cold glass of milk is great to drink because it is protein and calcium rich. Eat proteins. It will fill you up more than sugar and carbs to satisfy your growing appetite, plus it will help you build your muscles. You’ll see incredible amounts of growth right when you start any new exercise; exploit this!

As Thomas Edison once said, success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. Believe in yourself, stick to the plan, and you can do it!

Michael Zanovec

12/4/2008 10:46:16 PM
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