As much as I hate clutter and love to have everything in its place and a place for everything, my office isn’t exactly Organization Central. Frankly, you’d think I was some total fitness-obsessive, due to all the books, DVDs and random gadgets piled up on just about every square inch of surface (except for the inflatable ball I use for a chair).
We get so many DVDs and books in particular that it’s hard to keep up. I’m thinking I should launch a project where I try a different DVD every day, just to see if I can stand it (stay tuned for that one). But I did make it a point to get to Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels’ new book, Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss, and I have to say I was impressed. I found Jillian’s combination of mostly sensible tips for eating healthfully and cutting calories, maximizing your workout time, and staying motivated really practical, and while some of the advice is tried-and-true (when it comes to weight loss and fitness, it’s hard to get too creative), Jillian manages to keep it fresh for the most part.
And since I have Jillian on the brain (spoiler alert: She’ll be featured on the cover of our April issue!), I thought I’d cherry pick some of the best tips in Slim for Life for this post. Here goes:
- Watch out for these common exercise cheats: squats where you fail to bring thighs parallel to the floor; biceps curls or lat pulldowns where you never fully release the weight back to the start position or fail to straighten the arms; lunges where the rear knee is any more than 2 inches from the floor; military press with dumbbells where you never fully straighten your arms overhead.
- Get more out of your treadmill time: up the incline to 5% to burn 15% more calories; let go of the handrails (also works for other machines) to burn up to 25% more calories.
- Get unstable: Do biceps curls while standing on one foot, raise a leg while doing pushups or planks to involve your core stabilizing muscles.
- Switch it up: Alternate cardio machines from one day to the next, or use 2-3 different ones during the same workout to keep things interesting and your muscles challenged.
- Get intense: Forget the old “target fat burning zone” concept that suggested moderate exercise was better for burning calories from fat. As Jillian says in her signature say-it-like-it-is style, “That’s utter crap and a massive waste of time.” Instead, push yourself: Do circuits (moving quickly from strength exercise to exercise with no rest in between, sprinkling in short bouts of cardio if you’d like) or intervals. Give some of Jillian’s creative, challenging moves a try with this video:
Food for thought
- Whenever you can, eat food that’s grown within 100 miles of where you live. While Jillian also advises against eating processed foods, foods containing chemicals and pesticides, etc., focusing on eating local as often as you can pretty much takes care of that. It’s highly unlikely that packaged cookies, chips, sodas and fast food fare are sourced in your 100-mile radius.
- Follow the 4×4 rule. Instead of eating smaller meals more often, Jillian suggests eating every four hours–having a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a substantial afternoon snack to keep your blood sugar levels stable. She prefers thinking of that snack as more of a fourth meal–that way, we are more likely to consider our daily calorie allowance when we’re planning it, rather than grabbing random handfuls of chips or nuts or whatever without regard to portion size. She suggests that your 4th snack should be 20% of calorie allowance (so, if you’re eating 2000 calories a day, your snack should be 400 calories), and follow the same rules you use for healthy meals, eating a mix of healthy proteins, fats and carbs.
- Use this quick guide to make the best choices when eating out:
Greek: Souvlaki, kebabs, Greek salad, tabouli, hummus, yogurt, pita bread
Asian: Sashimi, seaweed salad, chicken, shrimp or beef satay (easy on the peanut sauce), brown rice. Steamed instead of sautéed.
Indian: Tandoori, lentil soups, vindaloos
Italian: grilled chicken or seafood, pasta primavera (with olive oil instead of cream), minestrone soup
These are only a few of the tips in the book–there are others, including descriptions of specific moves and circuits that can add a lot of zing to your routine. We’ll be featuring some of Jillian’s more creative moves–almost none of which require any more equipment than workout shoes and a mat (which I guess is optional) in our April issue and online at Spryliving.com–stay tuned.